Australian scientists have developed an agricultural technique derived from NASA’s experiments of growing wheat in space is capable of ‘speed breeding’ wheat production by three times on Earth.

Continuously increasing population and deteriorating environment has led to global food scarcity, so to meet the production rate of basic crops to adequately meet future demands, scientists are continuously working on developing some method for boosted crop cultivation. In recent studies, Australian scientists developed a technique called ‘speed breeding’ – and guess where they took the inspiration from – NASA, quite reasonably. So speed breeding is a technique that unbelievably shortens generation time and accelerates breeding and research programmes. So with this technique, 6 generations per year can be cultivated for wheat, durum wheat, barley, chickpea and pea; 4 generations per year of canola – instead of 2 or 3 generations in normal conditions.

Speed breeding technique was all derived from NASA’s space crop cultivation experiments. To do this, they developed specially modified glasshouses which had controlled climate and extended daylight conditions. The scientists demonstrated that speed breeding in fully enclosed, controlled-environment growth chambers can accelerate plant development for research purposes, including phenotyping of adult plant traits, mutant studies and transformation. This turned out to be even better than regular glasshouses because of extended exposure to sunlight and the result was high quality yield of plants in a much shorter time period.

The extended exposure to sunlight for crop cultivation was used by NASA during experiments conducted to study the cultivation of crops in space – and it turned out to be more useful right here, on Earth. To save electricity as well as cost, the supplement lighting was provided through light-emitting diode (LEDs). The speed breeding technique has received a lot of global interest because we humans have a task of producing 60-80% more food by 2050 to feed 9 billion people; and this NASA derived technique raises hopes.

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