The Crop and Environment Laboratory (CEL) is a dedicated complex that offers a broad range of facilities and support services for research into crop responses to the growing environment.
The facility allows for the control of various environmental variables, including temperature, light intensity and quality, day length, relative humidity, irrigation, nutrient availability, and CO2 concentration.
The Crop and Environment Laboratory provides a wide range of facilities for use in research and teaching, including:
- 14 matched Weiss-Technik Fitotron cabinets with full temperature, light, day length, relative humidity and CO2 control
- 6 Weiss walk-in growth rooms with temperature and day length control
- Factorial glasshouses with automated irrigation systems, heating (25 degrees uplift), supplementary lighting and day length control garages
- 5.5 hectares of experimental grounds where tunnels, cages, shelters and specialised irrigation, monitoring or other experimental installations can be setup for small-scale fieldwork
- Associated potting and storage sheds, field labs, vernalisation chamber, garages, common room and CE support room.
The majority of our CE units and glasshouse compartments are networked and remotely monitored. Several of our working areas, including the main cabinet hall and day length glasshouse, are set up for the contained use of genetically modified plants.
The CEL plays a vital role in several of the University's key research areas, including food security and resilience to climate change.
The facility is used in a variety of ways:
- Year-round capability to grow any terrestrial plant in environments mimicking anywhere from the Arctic regions to the tropics. For example, the University has an international reputation in research on cocoa, a species that has been continuously and successfully propagated in our facilities since 1985.
- Capability to test the responses of existing and novel germplasm to predicted future climate patterns.
- Research on the responses of genetically modified and non-genetically modified plants to environment.
- Research into the extension of soft fruit production season.
- Examining the impacts of abiotic stress (mainly heat and drought) on the biology of economically important crops such as rice and wheat.
- Factorial experimental designs permitting replication of multiple environments and environment combinations.
We also have researchers studying the properties and performance of building and food materials under specified ranges of environmental conditions, and can cater for non-biological experimentation.