NPEC Ecotron Facility

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NPEC’s ecotron facility is to be realized at Utrecht University and will consist of a range of fully closed and controlled mesocosm systems that allow for real-life plant (agro-) ecosystem analyses in real time.

In the past year, we have selected UGT Umwelt-Geräte-Technik (UGT) as the most capable manufacturer for these mesocosms. In collaboration with UGT, and based on UGT’s extensive experience with building such systems, we have developed two protoype mesocsoms. The so-called standard model provides a full range of control and above- and belowground sensors, with air temperature controlled via ambient room conditions. The climate-controlled model allows for precise temperature and humidity control per unit. A battery of 28 standard units have been ordered to be installed in two experimental areas, thereby offering higher experimental flexibility. The 8 temperature-control units are to be installed in a separate experimental area. In total, the NPEC Ecotron facility offers a wide range of experimental flexibility and throughput, allowing researchers to precisely track above and belowground parameters at a scale and complexity level that mimics real-life conditions. Installation will proceed in two phases, with an initial realization of 8 units (4 standard and 4 temperature-controlled) for extensive testing and full installation to follow.

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