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Months of getting equipment ready have finally cumulated in 10 days field work at the scenic Summerland House Farm. Prof Barry Osmond (pictured) and I spent ten days in the field trying to understand photosynthesis in both the inner and outer canopies of Avocado trees. We were running all our equipment from four large car batteries which we charged overnight and lugged out to our field site each day. During the ten day campaign we were met with everything from clear summer days to golf ball sized hail and we often found ourselves rushing to the field site to ensure none of our equipment got wet. Overall though a successful field campaign with lots of promising data collected and a big thankyou to all the welcoming staff at Summerland Farm House and Alstonville Country Cottages.
After a long wait we recently received a shiny new spectrometer to detect the subtle fluorescence given off by plants in sunlight (known as solar induced fluorescence; SIF). We plan to use this spectrometer in conjunction with our LIFT (light induced fluorescence transience) to understand what this SIF signal can tell us about plant photosynthesis and functioning.
However, in order to do this we our spectrometer needed to be calibrated (i.e setup to give meaningful measurements) and we needed to understand the optical properties of the plants we plan to study. This means measuring the amount of light that can pass through and the amount of light reflected from the leaves of the plant being examined. To do this Zbynek and I spent three long days working with an object called an integrating sphere.
Now that our spectrometer is calibrated and we have a better understanding of our experimental plants we look forward to running some exciting experiments.