P3 University of Sheffield
Something entirely different for the Haarkon Greenhouse Tour today - with some very familiar details thrown in to reassure us that we're in the right place.
We recently documented some incredibly special facilities at the University of Sheffield for their image bank to form part of their portfolio demonstrating the work they do on a programme called Plant Production and Protection - or P3.
P3 is the centre of the University for biological research and spans everything from soil studies to investigative experiments into sustainable food production. The projects they work on are live in the real world and the results of their work has a true impact on the wider population - basically, it's big stuff.
Here in the Arthur Willis Environment Centre the tunnels are open and large enough to walk around in. We found butterflies, tomato plants and yellow hosepipes - just like most other greenhouses we've been to.
Studies here look at the effects of flood and drought on plants, their ability to recover from the trauma and how to minimise the damage caused by such devastation.
So we started off with the more conventional greenhouse (if there is such a thing - one thing we've learned by doing a world tour is that there is no 'normal' when it comes to greenhouses) but here's where we turn a corner, the Sir David Read Controlled Environment Facility is our next stop.
From the outside they don't really look like the most natural of environments and they're not - they're 100% engineered. There's no daylight in the underground bunker and even the 'air' is managed by computer; each tank has it's own system so that climates from anywhere on earth can be recreated. Mind-blowing.
We got the chance to talk to some of the researchers and students there and found out about how these facilities are being used to study stomata - which are microscopic pores on the plant surface that control water loss. The idea is that these pores could be the secret to reducing infection and making crops more drought-resistant, especially in developing countries.
You can learn more about the P3 programme and all the incredible research that is undertaken by the University of Sheffield on the P3 website here.