Cranfield is home to a range of plant growth facilities for experimental work involving plant physiology, plant phenotyping, plant-microbe interactions, and plant-soil interactions. The facilities include a unique platform for assessing pilot scale crop-soil systems and sensor development, and they integrate with our Soil Management Facility, Postharvest facilities and with the CHAP and AgriEPI AgriTech Centres for Agricultural Innovation.

Key facts

The facility is home to a number of capabilities, listed below.

  • A 9m high, 300m2 Venlo glasshouse housing an overhead LemnaTec sensor gantry; this provides a unique facility for assessing crop-soil systems (crop height up to 2m) in 1m3 soil lysimeters, scannable with multiple state-of-the-art sensors. This facility is described in more detail as part of the CHAP and AgriEPI Agri-Tech Centres of Innovation.
  • A 4m high, 230m2 Venlo glasshouse with three compartments, includes thermal screens, roof vents, supplementary lighting, electric heating and automatic irrigation. It features ebb and flood bench, misting for propagation, and hydroponic and aeroponic installations. Associated with this is a 40m2 heated and ventilated polytunnel.
  • Four 10.5m2 walk-in Weiss plant growth rooms with temperature (15-35°C), relative humidity (60-95%), supplementary CO2 and LED lighting.
  • Four Weiss SGC120 and two Sanyo MLR-352H reach-in cabinets with temperature, lighting and humidity control.
  • Laboratory-based facilities for pilot-scale growth of microalgae.

Summary of applications

  • Plant growth studies interfacing with the soil management facility;
  • Understanding soil-crop systems;
  • Plant phenotyping, including root phenotyping, and linking genotype to phenotype in genetic studies;
  • Linking preharvest environments to postharvest outcomes;
  • Sensor development for crop monitoring;
  • Climate change studies- impact of elevated COon plant-microbe interactions;
  • Seed technology and crop establishment trials;
  • Trialling agrochemicals, biostimulants, biopesticides and novel formulations;
  • Algal biofuel trials.

Take a virtual 360° tour of our glasshouses below.