Optimised CO2 enrichment management for long-season tomato production in a UK tomato crop
Summary: This project directly builds on the outputs from the AHBD funded project PE 021 (Mulholland 2016 et al.), “Targeted enrichment management for long season crop production in the UK”. This project discovered that biological demand for CO2 by the crop was dynamic and that there was potential to better meet CO2 demand through targeted enrichment dosing. The project also developed a method to calculate CO2 offtake by the crop using non-destructive measurements and a photosynthesis-based model of crop CO2 uptake. By developing a biological approach to CO2 dosing, a variety of routes to enhanced CO2 efficiency were identified to complement other decision making processes relating to CO2 dosing, such as enrichment according to the economics of spark spread and CHP use. There is a pressing need however to commercialise these findings to understand how to maximise offtake under fluctuating supply of CO2 and crop demand, and to use this knowledge to increase marketable yield above current standard tonnages per hectare. A key next step will be to stimulate latent photosynthetic potential in the mid and lower canopy region to directly harness enhanced leaf CO2 assimilation for increased marketable yield with acceptable or enhanced fruit quality.