P. V. Vara Prasad's Research
Facilities & Equipment
The crop physiology and ecology program has state of the art research facilities and equipment to provide best learning experience for students, researchers, and visiting scientists. We conduct research at cellular level to understand biochemical and genetic pathways associated with stress tolerance; at whole plant level to see how various biochemical and physiological processes integrate to form yield; and finally at whole farm and ecosystem level to see crop species interact with environments. There is strong collaboration with plant breeders, geneticists, field agronomists and soil scientists to develop new cultivars with stress tolerance, new crop and soil management practices that improve productivity and efficient use of available resources (light, water and nutrients).
Some of the important facilities include the following:
- Controlled Environment Growth Chambers: State of art CONVIRON type of growth chambers are available to conduct temperature stress studies (both high temperature and cold temperature stress). These chambers are capable of controlling temperature and photoperiod through a computer controlled program. A total of 14 chambers are available [4 large (PGR 36) and 10 small (PGR 15) chambers].
- Controlled Environment Greenhouses: Two green houses are available to support student research activities. These greenhouses are equipped with drip irrigation system, extra illumination to increase light levels and also to controlled photoperiod as required for certain types of crops.
- Automatic Rain-out Shelters: Currently two rain-out shelters are under construction to conduct research related to water stress. These shelters are programmed and computer controlled to automatically close on the first incidence of rainfall event and open as soon as the rain stops.
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- Heat Tents: These aluminum framed polyethylene covered structures can be placed on top of the crop canopy to increase the temperature by about 4-5 degree Celsius during high radiation of the day. These tents are equipped with vents that will automatically open to prevent overheating. These tents can be used for crops such as soybean and wheat. Height extension components are available to use them on crops such as sorghum and maize.
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- Root Biology: Facilities are currently being improved to conduct controlled environment studies to understand root growth of plants. Some of these facilities include large column studies and computer scanning and software (WinRhizo Pro) to analyze root biomass and also infield root scanner to monitor in-season root growth and biomass.
- Field Agronomic Research: About 10 – 15 acre field space is available at Ashland Bottoms to conduct agronomic field research. These research typically include crop responses to fertilizer, planting density, planting geometry and germplasm screening for stress tolerance and evaluation of crop rotations systems on efficient use of inputs.
- Specialized Equipment: The crop physiology laboratory is equipped with several instruments that are used in stress physiology. Some of these include: gas exchange measurement system; spectrophometer; gas chromatograph; microscope with digital imaging camera and root scanning equipment; environmental sensors to measure air, soil and canopy temperatures, soil moisture measuring and monitoring equipment.