Vancouver-based agtech leader Terramera develops plant-based replacements to synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Now the company has built six custom, state-of-the-art plant growth chambers to showcase its technological capabilities, improve its R&D, and redefine indoor agriculture’s contribution to field-based production. The growth chambers will also reduce trial time from weeks to days.
Many crop protection products fail in the field because labs and greenhouses do not accurately replicate real-world conditions, according to the company. Each of Terramera’s new chambers offer precise control over temperature (ranging from 5-40°C), humidity and light to simulate multiple field conditions, from cool nights and morning mists to desert and subtropical conditions, and are outfitted with a Terramera-built automation system for end-to-end integration.
“Customised growth chambers allow us to simulate weather to study disease and insect infestations with integrated treatment and imaging systems in one automated system – replicated six times for parallel studies,” said Annett Rozek, Terramera’s chief scientific officer. “This is as close as we can get to real-world conditions in a research environment and will deliver solutions as rapidly and efficiently as possible.”
Automation will enable experiments to run entirely without human intervention, including watering, spraying, nutrient dosing and imaging of the plants throughout their lifecycle, dramatically accelerating data collection for product performance and increasing accuracy with Terramera’s innovative AI and machine learning platform.
The new growth chambers bring Terramera’s total to twelve and are part of a larger technological scale-up for the company, which has also brought a new best-in-class liquid handling robot on board. Terramera’s own machine learning (ML) model named the robot, ‘Enzing’, which is integrated into the company’s fully automated in-vitro screening and data analysis pipeline. The robot has already enabled Terramera’s largest in-vitro screening project yet, testing the company’s Actigate library against numerous plant disease pathogens.
“This marks an exciting milestone for Terramera and a step-change in the industry by adding a new, essential capacity,” said Karn Manhas, Terramera’s founder and CEO. “Simulated environment studies are the missing link between controlled environments like the lab or greenhouse, and field trials, since many products fail because lab and greenhouse conditions are too different from the outside world on a farm. This technology increases our throughput, allowing us to predict outcomes more accurately, and to quickly scale our knowledge and technologies to make farming healthier, more sustainable and productive, while turning back the clock on climate change.”