Legacy Meeting Papers/Preprints of the Plant Biomechanics Group

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This is a collection of non-peer-reviewed ASAE (now ASABE) meeting papers. Most of these manuscripts were subsequently published in peer-reviewed venues. However, this is the sole, online source for a number of these “stranded” papers. We share these now, hoping that these retain some value for future generations.

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Stomatal Control System -- These papers explore the role of stomata, the microscopic pores on the surfaces of higher plants. The stomata mediate the exchanges of water vapor and carbon dioxide between the plant and its environment. We explored stomatal spacing, the structural mechanics of the guard cells, the transient and periodic behavior of stomatal movments, the nonlinear oscillations that occur under certain stress conditions, the practical implications of these oscillations for plants, including on transpiration, assimilation, and water-use efficiency.

Plant Biomechanics -- In addition to the major thrust concerning stomata, this group explored function and form in plant biology from the perspective of engineers. Most of these studies heavily utilized mathematics to uncover new relationships. For example, predicting the surface area and volume of growing fruits, non-destructively exploring the internal material properties of fruits by examining the whole body mechanical resonance (“apple quakes”), oxygen diffusion through potato tissue, detecting bruise damage to harvested apple fruits, fluid transport through the phloem, the mechanics of roots growing through the soil, and the process of exudation of sap to infer the water status in plants.

Fruit Harvesting -- We provided a theoretical basis for understanding fruit detachment by oscillatory shaking of the tree, and by limb impact and tree trunk impacts. A double physical pendulum model was studied in detail, including predicting the normal mode behavior and nonlinear resonances. High speed videos were used for verification. The finite element method was used to study the impact loading and high speed videos were produced to corroborate these studies. Young’s modulus as shown to vary along the length of an apple tree limb.

Eggshell Strength -- Eggshell breakage is a major economic issue for the poultry industry. We contributed to this much-studied issue for both mechanical and thermally induced breakage. We examined breakage using a flat plate loading and the breakage resulting from the hot water washing of eggs. Surprisingly, when heated in hot water, the contents of the egg expand, while the enclosed volume of the shell shrinks, producing breakage by the resulting internal pressure increases. A finite element study of a fluid-filled, ovaloid shell confirmed the approximate results from a simple fluid-filled, spherical shell model.


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