Controlled Environment Production of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal)
Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) production of medicinal plants is a proposed way to increase the availability of standardised, phytochemically uniform or enhanced raw materials for plant-based medicines. This thesis explored the status of medicinal plants within this modern era of agriculture, and investigated the production of a valued medicinal plant, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal). To begin establishing horticultural recommendations towards the development of a CEA production-strategy framework for W. somnifera, studies were conducted to evaluate germination, net carbon exchange rate (NCER) responses under increasing photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) or varying qualities (wavelengths in nm), effects of supplemental UV-A light on antioxidant activity, and the effects of repeated harvesting on biomass production. Findings suggest that W. somnifera is a highly adaptive plant, as positive responses were seen under a wide range of spectral conditions, and plants did not exhibit negative responses when subjected to UV-A or repeated harvest treatments.