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Plants @ Cambridge


Plant growth facilities


Across the Plants @ Cambridge members, including the Department of Plant Sciences, Crop Science Centre (CSC), Sainsbury Laboratory (SLCU), Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) and NIAB, there are a range of plant growth facilities currently available to researchers at the University. 

This page collates this information, outlining what facilities potential users across Plants @ Cambridge can access, their associated charges, and who to discuss your plant growth facility needs with to help ensure use of the most appropriate growth space. 


Department of Plant Sciences Plant Growth Facility (PGF)

Facilities available

  • Glasshouse on the Botanic Garden site
  • Growth Cabinets
    • 25 standalone growth cabinets with a range of lighting
  • Conviron Growth Rooms
    • 16 walk in growth rooms with a range of lighting, temperature and humidity controls:

1     Conviron    LED            Hi-Light (1200uM), 28°C day, 20°C night
2     Conviron    Incan/LED   Hi-Light (1200uM), 28°C day, 20°C night
3     Conviron    Incan          Hi-Light (1200uM), 28°C day, 20°C night
4     Conviron    LED        12 Canopy            
5     Conviron    LED        12 Canopy                    
6     Conviron    LED        12 Canopy (400uM), 22°C day/night
7     Conviron    LED        12 Canopy (150uM), 20°C day/night
8     Conviron    LED        12 Canopy (150uM), 20°C day/night    
9     Conviron    LED        12 Canopy (150uM), 20°C day/night
10   Conviron    Incan        6 Canopy, ante-chamber DEFRA            
11   Conviron    Incan        6 Canopy, ante-chamber DEFRA    
12   Conviron    LED        12 Canopy                    
13   Conviron    LED        12 Canopy                    
14   Conviron    LED        12 Canopy                    
15   Conviron    LED        12 Canopy                    
16   Conviron    LED        12 Canopy


Service provided


  • Compost 
  • A soil mixer is available for use in Hall 1, and other materials for mixing specific compost requirements are also available
  • Liquid nitrogen is available (training must be given before use)
  • Pots, trays and other items for plant growth 
  • Consumables (autoclave bags, tape, string, pot labels etc.)
  • Cleaning materials 
  • Bleach tanks are provided for sterilising equipment such as pots and trays after use
  • There is an automated watering system. Requests for variations can be discussed with the PGF manager. The system must not be used for plants that have been transformed using Agrobacteria; gravel trays without holes for transformed plants are available
  • There is a temperature controlled seed storage facility located in Hall 2



For grant-funded research:

  • University user: £14.70/m2/day
  • External user: £26.46/m2/day




Crop Science Centre


Facilities available

Two glasshouses (A40/A41) at NIAB are designated primarily for use by colleagues based in CSC. Glasshouses have approx. 7 roll benches with approx. 70m2 of space.

There are also six controlled environment rooms and 8 controlled environment chambers. Conviron rooms provide researchers with the ability to control their growing environments with greater accuracy. Lighting is white broad-spectrum LED. 

Glasshouses, NIAB Park Farm:

  • Currently set up for Barley plants
  • Day temperatures maintained in the low 20s (20-23°C)
  • Night temperatures in the high teens (16-17°C)
  • Humidity set at approximately 50-60%
  • White + Red broad-spectrum LED lighting
  • GM material


  • Tailored for Rice plants with tropical settings
  • Day temperatures set to 28°C, and 23°C at night
  • Minimum humidity level of 60%
  • White broad-spectrum LED Lighting
  • GM material 


Controlled environment rooms, Crop Science Centre:

  • CER1 Temp L22/D22°C, 16hL/8hD, 130uE, H55%
  • CER2 Temp L18/D13°C, 16hL/8hD, 350uE, H60%
  • CER3 Temp L28°C (pick 31°C)/D23°C, 12hL/12hD, 300uE, H60% (peak 80) 
  • CER4 Temp 28/D20°C, 12hL/12hD, 300uE, H65%
  • CER5 Temp 19C, 16hL/8hD, 250uE, H65%
  • CER6 Temp 28/D20°C, 12hL/12hD, 300uE, H65%


Service provided


  • Fogging systems
  • Air conditioning
  • Automatic watering systems
  • Mains water only
  • Managed day to day by NIAB staff


Controlled environment rooms: 

  • Compost 
  • Pots, trays and other items for plant growth 
  • Consumables (autoclave bags, tape, string, pot labels etc.)
  • Cleaning materials 
  • Bleach tanks are provided for sterilising equipment such as pots and trays after use
  • There is an automated watering system operational in some rooms. Requests for variations can be discussed with the CSC Horticultural Technician.
  • Autoclaving of sand/ soil and GM plants waste
  • Integrated Pest Management Control



Contact NIAB for their rates for University of Cambridge users. 



To discuss glasshouse availability, contact Peter Baker (Glasshouse Manager). Staff are also encouraged to discuss projects in the A40 glasshouse in the first instance with Eleni Soumpourou (ENSA Platform Manager). 

Contact Susanna Sauret Gueto (CSC Research Services Manager) regarding the controlled environment rooms.


Sainsbury Laboratory 

Facilities available

With 42 controlled environment rooms and 300m² of growing space under glass, the Sainsbury Laboratory is well equipped to provide excellent growing facilities for pioneering plant science research.



A functional and practical growing space for growing plants where precise environmental requirements are not a prerequisite. The state of the art glasshouse with mobile benches, resin sealed floor, and grow lamps, and allows researchers a clean and useful growing space all year round. The facility benefits from a separate plant preparation area easily accessible to the main growing areas through a central corridor.


Controlled growth facilities:

Conviron rooms provide researcher’s the ability to control with greater accuracy their growing environments. The Sainsbury Laboratory is equipped with three different types, widening the range of plants that can be grown.


Ideally suited for the growing of Arabidopsis. It is a multi-tiered room that provides 18m² of growing space, with flexible moving trolleys and easily adjustable lighting for increase or decrease in µmole light requirements; there are 26 of these rooms. 

PGC flex cabinets:

Each of the five cabinets has a 2m² surface area, adjustable pulley roof lights giving a maximum growth height of 1.5m, temperature control from 10°C-40°C (lights on) and maximum light level of 700µmoles.


By providing high light levels (up to 1100µmoles) and high temperatures, coupled with maintaining humidity within ample growth space, these 11 rooms are ideal for growing cereals and other crops. 


Service provided

All consumables - compost, trays, labels, etc.



£0.84 per standard propagation tray size per day (counted weekly).



Please get in touch with Laurel Tully, Horticultural Facilities Manager 


Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Facilities available

Cambridge University Botanic Garden Experimental Section has approx. 150m2 of glasshouse benches offering a variety of growing environments, and approx. 500m2 of outdoor plot space available for research purposes. 

The Glasshouses offer a protected growing environment for the cultivation of a wide range of plants unsuitable for growth cabinet cultivation. The houses comprise: 

  • Zone 1: min. 15°C night / 18°C day, venting at 20°C max., bench space approx. 45m2, or 40m2 + 11m2 floor-standing 
  • Zone 5: min. 23°C night / 28°C day, venting at 30°C max., bench space approx. 45m2 
  • Zone 6: min. 15°C day and night, venting at 20°C max., bench space approx. 24m2, or 18m2 + m2 floor standing 

Please note that the glasshouses do not have a cooling system and heat may be a problem in summer months. 

The outdoor plots offer year-round open ground cultivation for hardy and tender species. 


Service provided


  • General cultivation advice 
  • Provision of basic materials e.g. standard pots, standard soil-based potting compost, etc. 
  • Monitoring, including temperature 
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Daily watering in the morning, and a check in the afternoon
  • Growth lamps; supplementary lighting is/ may be available, please discuss your needs with the team
  • Containment Level 1 facilities 
  • Oversight by two members of the Botanic Gardens’ glasshouse team
  • Additional requirements by agreement 


Outdoor plots:

  • Can specify plot size 
  • General cultivation advice 
  • Cultivation e.g. site preparation, germination / propagation, planting and watering 
  • Monitoring 
  • Weed control
  • Some watering
  • Additional requirements by agreement 



  • There are no charges for undergraduates 
  • There are only charges for University users if they have applied for funding in grant applications to cover it

Glasshouse costs:

  • University user: £2.97/m2/day
  • External user: £5.18/m2/day

Outdoor plot costs:

  • University user: 32p/m2/day
  • External user: 40p/m2/day



Get in touch with to discuss your requirements.

Please note a minimum of two weeks’ notice is required for all bookings and space is allocated on a first come first served basis.

Occupancy levels are fairly consistent throughout the year, with increased demand in Michaelmas for undergraduates, and the start of the year for the growing season.



Facilities available

In addition to the facilities in conjunction with the Crop Science Centre, mentioned above, NIAB Cambridge also have other glasshouses available at NIAB Park Farm. 
Outside Hard Standing:

  • Outdoor standing-out area, Mypex covered, wind and rabbit protection

Seasonal glasshouse:

  • Natural light, heating, fixed wooden trestle benching and Mypex flooring

Medium specifications:

  • 6000 lux sodium lights + night break lighting, heating, blackouts, insect screens, soil floor
  • 10000 lux sodium lights + night break lighting, heating, roller benches, blackout curtains, insect screens

High specifications (GM and NON GM):

  • Various lights (10,000 lux sodium lights, White + Red Spectrum LED, Far Red LED speeding for speed breeding), heating, air conditioning, roller benches, blackouts, insect screens and air con. Benching or floor standing areas.  Separate corridor entrance. Suitable for GM containment work. 


Automatic irrigation available in all areas.


There are also glasshouses at the NIAB East Malling site in Kent with similar specifications. 


Service provided

  • Basic general maintenance
  • Once-a-day weekend checks
  • Sowing/potting on and labels
  • Pest & disease management

However, standard charges not cover NIAB staff time for project management, trial assessments, analysis, or report writing etc, which can be arranged at an additional fee.



Space is booked per m2, per month. Please contact NIAB for their rates for University of Cambridge users. 

Space is booked on a first come first served basis, and capacity varies throughout the year:

  • In the summer, the seasonal glasshouses are very busy
  • Over the winter, the higher spec glasshouses are very busy
  • GM containment glass is busy most of the time



To discuss NIAB glasshouse availability, contact Peter Baker (Glasshouse Manager).  

Typically, projects require a lead time of at least 2-3 weeks to ensure proper setup of the glasshouse space and arrangement of necessary resources and consumables once the space has been confirmed.