The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF) is proud to announce we are a supporting partner for the newly announced Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plants For Space (P4S), which is being led by the University of Adelaide.

Other foundational Australian university partners include Flinders University, University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and University of Western Australia.

The Centre will receive $35 million for seven years of research from the Australian Government. Another 38 partners, including APPF, will lift the total invested over this period to approximately $90 million.

APPF Executive Director, Dr Susie Robinson says APPF is excited to commit to working with P4S on a collaborative technology development program, focussed on novel growth protocols for controlled environments.

“I am pleased to confirm that with our strong support for P4S, we will facilitate access to our globally leading research infrastructure and supporting services in sensing, imaging and analytics that enable impact in plant science and digital and precision agriculture.

“Working together with the new Centre, we will jointly develop novel approaches that push the boundaries for plant-growth in highly-controlled environments, benefitting both space exploration but also diversifying our options for growing food and plant-products here on earth.”

The goal for the P4S project is the creation of on-demand, zero-waste, high-efficiency plants and plant products to address grand challenges in sustainability for space and on earth. The research centre will focus international expertise on finding ways to provide the next generation of space explorers with nutritious foods, and the on-demand supply of materials and medicines.

In reality, this means developing highly efficient food production systems that can be used on long-duration space voyages and ex-Earth stations. However, the potential benefits for the sustainability and productivity of farming and food production back on Earth are just as profound.

Dr Robinson said APPF’s current capabilities and future plans for the upcoming decade will see a continuing focus on enabling complex characterisation, manipulation and optimisation of plant performance in highly controlled plant growth environments.

“P4S aims to underpin rapid growth of the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry, including adopting a global leadership role in engineering innovative plant production systems.

“This will support immediate and rapid economic growth, coupled with sustainability, for high-value Australian agriculture and plant-based innovation.

“Phenomics will be absolutely critical to the identification of the most promising plant phenotypes and controlled environment designs for these advances.”

APPF is excited to collaborate with P4S and partners, including leading universities, NASA, German Space Agency, Space Lab Technologies, Axiom Space, and others on the P4S project.

Congratulations to the P4S team for their vision and application. We look forward to seeing the innovative outputs from this Centre.