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Sensors 2012, 12(10), 13349-13392; doi:10.3390/s121013349
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Ion-Specific Nutrient Management in Closed Systems: The Necessity for Ion-Selective Sensors in Terrestrial and Space-Based Agriculture and Water Management Systems

1,2
, 2
, 2
, 1
, 3
 and 2,*
1 Canadian Space Agency, Space Science and Technology, 6767 route de l’aéroport, Longueuil, QC J3Y 8Y9, Canada 2 Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada 3 COM DEV Ltd., 303 Terry Fox Dr., Suite 100, Ottawa, ON K2K 3J1, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2012 / Revised: 3 September 2012 / Accepted: 10 September 2012 / Published: 1 October 2012
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Abstract

The ability to monitor and control plant nutrient ions in fertigation solutions, on an ion-specific basis, is critical to the future of controlled environment agriculture crop production, be it in traditional terrestrial settings (e.g., greenhouse crop production) or as a component of bioregenerative life support systems for long duration space exploration. Several technologies are currently available that can provide the required measurement of ion-specific activities in solution. The greenhouse sector has invested in research examining the potential of a number of these technologies to meet the industry’s demanding requirements, and although no ideal solution yet exists for on-line measurement, growers do utilize technologies such as high-performance liquid chromatography to provide off-line measurements. An analogous situation exists on the International Space Station where, technological solutions are sought, but currently on-orbit water quality monitoring is considerably restricted. This paper examines the specific advantages that on-line ion-selective sensors could provide to plant production systems both terrestrially and when utilized in space-based biological life support systems and how similar technologies could be applied to nominal on-orbit water quality monitoring. A historical development and technical review of the various ion-selective monitoring technologies is provided.
Keywords: ion-selective sensors; water quality; inorganic ion monitoring; space exploration; bioregenerative life support; hydroponics ion-selective sensors; water quality; inorganic ion monitoring; space exploration; bioregenerative life support; hydroponics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Bamsey, M.; Graham, T.; Thompson, C.; Berinstain, A.; Scott, A.; Dixon, M. Ion-Specific Nutrient Management in Closed Systems: The Necessity for Ion-Selective Sensors in Terrestrial and Space-Based Agriculture and Water Management Systems. Sensors 2012, 12, 13349-13392.

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