Study and optimization of biological processes involved in food production require the quantitative study of the environment’s influences on the organism and eventually the products and byproducts consumed and produced. Commercial growth chambers do not fully support such quantitative study due to the underlying limitations (cost, size, resource exchange, programmability, user interaction, etc.). This work presents a low cost programmable system designed to facilitate such studies in organisms such as plants, fungi, and insect larvae. The proposed system consists of modular units performing specific functions. A sensor cluster for measuring gas concentrations, air properties (temperature, humidity, pressure), and growing medium properties was implemented and tested. Actuators for resource exchange, air conditioning, and light spectrum adjustment are proposed. A three-tier hierarchical software framework consisting of open-source cloud platform for data aggregation and user interaction; microcontroller firmware; and an application development framework for test automation and experiment regime design is developed. Series of experiments and tests were performed using the designed hardware and software to evaluate its capabilities and limitations. This controlled environment was used to study photosynthesis in Ocimum basilicum
and, in a second experiment, the evolution of the metabolic activity of Hermetia illucens
larvae over its larval phase.
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