Astronauts with green thumbs – Space research for sustainable agriculture & horticulture

Growing kohlrabi in space is no longer fiction, it’s science. Space research into efficient crop production not only feeds our dreams of inhabiting other planets, it can also help to sustainably feed a growing population here on Earth.

Cucumbers in the laboratory

In space, temperatures are extreme and water is scarce. On Earth, more and more regions are suffering from severe droughts or are affected by natural disasters due to climate change.

To address these issues, scientists and farmers have been working with the space industry to answer questions such as: How can crop production be monitored and managed efficiently and sustainably? Which crops are suitable for what soil? And how can new irrigation technologies help to minimize the water usage?

Solutions come from near and far

Solutions to these questions come from high above and from the plant roots themselves: Satellites have been used to help with measuring field size or routing huge harvester formations for two decades, today they can also assess soil quality, predict crop yield and enable targeted irrigation. In horticulture research, nutrient and water usage for single plants are optimized in new greenhouse systems tested in Antarctica, among others, which can be adapted for usage in disaster-stricken regions all over the world.

Jess builds greenhouses for Mars in Germany

Growing kohlrabi in space sounds like fiction - scientists like Jess make it happen. Learn how space research into crop production can help to sustainably feed Earth’s population.

Video-Thumbnail: Jess builds greenhouses for Mars in Germany

Markus helps feed people in crisis areas

Producing fresh food just days after a devastating flood? The Mobile Emergency Plant Growing Application (MEPA) makes it possible. Markus Dorn, MEPA project manager at the DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen, explains how it works and how it relates to Jess's greenhouse project.

Video Teaserbild: Markus helps feed people in crisis areas

More space research in Germany


Longwave infrared sensing demonstrator: Infrared cameras from space provide a precise assessment of water availability vs. need in single plants by measuring infrared radiation from the soil. Scientist from Fraunhofer IOF and EMI and innovators from constellar GmbH and SPACEOPTIX GmbH work together on this exciting project.

Learn more on the website of the Fraunhofer Institute


Innovators from Airbus and the DigiFarm start-up cooperated to develop a satellite software that can detect the world’s most accurate field boundaries in order to power precision agriculture.

Learn more on the website of Digifarm

Talking Fields

Managing crops and fields effectively and sustainably on the small and large scale via satellite monitoring is made possible by Talking Fields – a successful cooperation project between the LMU University, the Helmholtz UFZ and Leibnitz LRZ research institutions and the Vista company.

Learn more on the Talking Fields website