Deirdre is investigating how circadian rhythms in plants might be exploited to improve the consistency of crop growth in vertical farms.
Circadian rhythms play an important role in regulating crop production in vertical farms, because day and night conditions can be controlled by the grower. However, the performance of the crop under artificially controlled conditions is ultimately determined by the genetics of the crop, which affect how it responds to its environment.
Deirdre’s project involves collaboration with LettUs Grow, which is an indoor farming R&D company based in Bristol. The long-term goal of this project is to improve year-round growth consistency of crops in vertical farms, to ensure reliable yields during and outside traditional growth seasons.
Vertical farming is a fast-growing industry in which crops are grown in stacked indoor systems, as opposed to outdoors in fields. Every aspect of a plant’s development can be controlled in a vertical farm, from the amount and spectra of light to temperature conditions and nutrient supply. Therefore, vertical farming provides opportunities to isolate crop production from seasonal changes and local weather conditions, so providing a strategy to improve the resilience of food production.
Deirdre’s PhD is funded by the UKRI-BBSRC Norwich Research Park Doctoral Training Partnership.