One of the critical components in space crop research focuses on factors that are related to edible biomass. Essentially, how much time, energy, and resources are needed to produce given quantities of edible plant based food. This stage in the AIRI program seeks to isolate variables that affect edible biomass in microgreens while also identifying developmental patterns such as dwarfing. The main protocol set outlines how to collect data at three given points in development regarding average specimen height and eventually total edible biomass. This stage is able to be scaled to include additional data points associated with average canopy area analysis.

Why Microgreen Biomass?

Plants grown in long-term space missions will need produce nutrient dense yields with minimal energy and space requirements. While microgreens may not be a future space farmer’s main source of food, they may actually be an integral source of vital nutrients. In the first stage of the “Microgreens in Microgravity“, the goal is to identify microgreen biomass variation based on growth conditions. At a basic level, this may be measured with a controlled biomass measurement after a defined growing period. As an extension, canopy area measurments may be taken. The data collected in this stage may identify growth patterns between microgreen species that would direct future space-flight experiments.

Stage I Protocols

Investigation Supplies

Stage I Microgreen Planting Protocol

-Use the Hamama kit instructions, or

  • If not using the kit, please precisely record any variations in your protocol using  your “Science Journal”
  • Fill a single tray with dry soil and weigh (Record the weight of this tray and use it as a reference for subsequent trays)
  • Weigh appropriate amount of seeds for selected tray size. (For small seeds, such as Mizuna, a 2g measurement is usually used per standard planting tray.)
  • Utilize the microgreen density calculator to measure ideal seed quantities
  • Add tap water to the growing trays (soil should be damp, not wet/flooded)
  • Evenly spread the seeds across each tray, with one species or cultivar per tray (Seeds can also be spread in rows within the same tray. If multiple seeds will be represented in single trays, it is important that each row

Data Points to be Collected

Participants of AIRI Program 1 Stage 1 are to keep a separate science journal, digital or paper, with the following data points collected on the 4th, 8th, and 12th day after planting. Specimen photos are to be taken during all observation days as well.

Complete list of data points to document prior to entering data in Epicollect:

Stage I Data Collection Protocol

Data is to be recorded on the 4th, 8th, and 12th day after planting. All data is to be entered in the “AIRI Microgreen Growth Biomass Analysis” data collecting form through the Epicollect 5 app or browser website.

NOTE: For educators utilizing AIRI with young learners unfamiliar with fundamentals of data collection and analysis, we recommend utilizing the Kids in Data program. Not only does this free program provide engaging methods to teach data literacy through the use of video games, it also introduces concepts related to online safety and privacy.

Epicollect5 Data Input Application Setup

Epicollect5 is a mobile and web application for free and easy data collection.
This application is utilized by universities, students, and researchers around the world. Data sets are open source and are able to be downloaded by anyone who is participating. The data that is entered into the AIRI related questionnaires will populate the various AIRI data visualization tools. These tools are meant to be used to compare data sets and experimental variables in real time. All visualizations are open source and able to be downloaded for free.

The simplest way to upload experimental data is through the mobile application. Both the mobile and browser app setup and data input steps are outlined below.

Epicollect5 browser Application

Epicollect5 Mobile Application

Photographic Microgreens Protocol

Measuring Height Protocol

General Observations Protocols

Edible Biomass Measurement Protocol

  • After all observations have been collected on the 12th day after planting, record the edible biomass measurements in the general observations document (list each tray separately)
  • Harvest microgreens by removing them from soil media then cutting them at the base of the plant (just above the roots) A good way to do this is to use scissors. Cut the stems right above the soil line as close to the root as possible.
  • Measure each separate tray harvest in grams and record these measurements then input them along with the other corresponding data points in the Epicollect5 data sharing application.

Stage I Easy Leaf Area Protocol

What is Easy Leaf Area?

Easy leaf area is free, open source, software that rapidly measures leaf area in digital images (photographs or scanner images). Easy leaf area uses the RGB value of each pixel to identify leaf and scale regions in each image.

Leaf Area Analysis of Microgreens Grown with Hamama Growth Kit.

Getting Started:

  1. This program analyzes single jpeg or tiff images or batches of images for leaf area.
  2. Images must have a red scale of known area in the image in the same plane as the leaves for the program to use as a reference scale (This can be added in photoshop or other “Paint” software packages).
  3. Download and install Easy Leaf Area on a designated computer or Android device application. This software runs on android as an app, or can be used with images moved to a PC, Linux or MacOS.
  4. Follow the instruction on their website:

Program Navigation

  1. AIRI Home
  2. Program Outline
  3. Crop Selection and Microgreens
  4. List of Desirable Microgreens
  5. STAGE I: Microgreen Biomass Analysis
  6. STAGE I: NGSS Alignment and Educational Resources