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Taylor DeLile

Student - in Engineering, USMC 1341 E4

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An artificial sun / moon lighting system for inside gardens, that mimics a natural Circadian Rhythm.

There is something about the natural cycle of plant life that allows the Earth itself to grow plants with more grace and purpose, over an artificial environment. Well all know about it as the Circadian Rhythm.

I am creating an artificial environment for an indoor garden, and I am struggling with finding out an appropriate lighting system that is energy efficient and effective in growing vegetables. Right now, I simply turn the sun lamps and the moon lamps on and off at appropriate times. I thought – wouldn't this shock the plant, and take a lot of energy away from its growth cycle? This introduces the "shock" variable which I did not account for earlier.

I wanted to eliminate this shock variable, because it was too unpredictable. I don't have the means to measure the amount of shock a plant sustains. As a result, I drafted an idea to make my lighting more natural by following the Circadian Rhythm of the planet, based on a map of astronomical cycles programmed into a computer, controlling an artificial day and night sun / moon cycle using high pressure sodium lighting.

With this, I began to think further: Should I also mimic the humidity, temperature, and pressure changes during day and night cycles? When the artificial sun rises, should the temperature increase, and the humidity and air pressure decrease? When the artificial moon rises, should the opposite happen?

I hope to hear what interesting interpretations has on my idea. My name is Taylor, thank you for reading this.

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  • Jun 21 2013: As far as lamps go, you should consider using supplemental Blue and Red spectrums LEDs. The blue spectrum mimics vegetative stage, eg. the spring sun. The red mimics flowering stage eg. the fall sun. Using different spectrums for different times of the year would help to mimic natural light cycles. Also depending on the light needs of your plants you should consider Metal Halide lamps for veg and High Pressure Sodium for flowering. Personally, I believe you would be better off with a green house. One commonly overlooked input is CO2, which could be naturally supplied by animals such as hamsters and bunnies, or artificially by co2 tanks or distilled water w/ yeast and sugar.. And assuming you're growing organically, I would consider making a microbially active compost tea for regular fertilizing. I would suggest researching bioshelter greenhouses. Here's a link:
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/mother-builds-a-homestead.aspx#axzz2WtONHUYl
    Not to be a downer, but I don't believe you could truly mimic nature's cycles without some serious funds. One other thing to check out would be light movers, which if properly set up may mimic the natural movement of the sun.
    • Jun 21 2013: I don't think you are being a downer at all. Obviously it's going to be an artificial representation of what nature does. And I am also going to be collaborating with other degree programs at my school.

      The CO2 is a really great suggestion. What would be the benefits of delivering CO2 using live animals, versus the tanks, versus the water/yeast/sugar mixture?
      • Jun 22 2013: There would be no known benefits I know of for using animals versus CO2 tanks. I'd imagine both tanks and animals would be more stable CO2 output than the water/yeast/sugar mixture, though.Another benefit of animals is their body warmth helps to heat the indoor garden. Have you thought about what type of light you'd use to mimic the moon? Also have you thought about adding either passive or active ventilation?
        • Jun 22 2013: Right now we have active ventilation pumping carbon-filtered air from the outside in. The room is barely set up.

          The light I would us to mimic the moon's reflection of the sun's rays are whatever flowering lamps I choose, set at a level the mimics the moon's light level on a clear, full moon.

          It will be set on an equinox schedule - 12 hours day, 12 hours night.

          I can see how the animas would definitely affect the temperature and humidity of the indoor garden. I just worry about cost effectiveness and care for the animals.
    • Jun 21 2013: I would think that introducing animals would be too unpredictable, and you would really need to take sure care of those animals to make certain they don't get sick and therefore makes the vegetables sick.

      I would also imagine the yeast would probably introduce the risk of a yeast or bacterial infection, or mold.

      The CO2 tanks would probably be the best bet. Easily controlled, low maintenance.

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