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NASA-inspired "speed breeding" boosts wheat production threefold


Developed by scientists at the University of Sydney, the University of Queensland (UQ) and the John Innes Centre, the technique builds on research trialled by NASA more than a decade ago as a way of producing food during space missions. It sees the crops raised here on Earth inside a glasshouse, under continuous low-cost LEDs that emit light at specific wavelengths to boost photosynthesis.

"The far-red spectrum is important for triggering the reproductive growth and also light intensity for healthy robust plants," study co-author and UQ Senior Research Fellow Lee Hickey tells New Atlas.

Using its carefully crafted lighting setup, the team was able to grow six generations of wheat, chickpea and barley plants and four of canola plants in a single year, as opposed to two or three in the glasshouse or a single generation in the field. It says it also works for peanuts, amaranth and lentils, and expects it to work for sunflower, pepper and radish.

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