New PdC greenhouse to help student growth

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Senior Syd Kossman attends to some poinsettias that will soon be delivered to the customers of the FFA Poinsettia Sale. Plant science students such as Kossman also earn credit at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College for taking the course. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

Senior Korbin Bachman shows the cutting of a wandering yew.

Joshua Kotte, a senior, tries to find some germination in several containers of herbs.

 

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor Diane Colburn said Prairie du Chien High School students and staff are looking forward to getting the school’s new greenhouse up and running in full growing mode soon.

The new 30x40-foot greenhouse is much larger than the former greenhouse and was built as part of the recently completed $19.7 million school facilities upgrade project. A few details still need to be done on the inside but the new greenhouse should have a lot going on by March.

Colburn said the greenhouse is fully automated. Among other things, it features a fertigation (fertilizer and irrigation) system by which fertilizer and water are metered out automatically. Air circulation is also automatic as is the curtain just below the ceiling that can be deployed or retracted to let in the perfect amount of light, as measured in photons, for any particular project.

Currently, there are numerous poinsettias in the greenhouse awaiting delivery to the people who purchased them during the recent, annual FFA Poinsettia Sale.

By March, it is hoped there will be several hanging baskets in the greenhouse and other projects.

“The students are looking forward to engaging, fun, hands-on learning,” said Colburn. “This is a learning facility first, not a production greenhouse. While we will try production simulation, that is not my number one goal.”

Colburn said plans for the greenhouse include: 

•Experiments for the Agri-Science Fair competition through FFA

•Research projects for plant science classes 

•Supervised agriculture experiences

•Career development events and skills practice

•Root vegetable garden trials

•Pollinator projects

•Hydroponics/aquaponics – lettuce and herbs, perhaps microgreens, eventually fish and possibly shrimp as well

•FFA Spring Sale featuring hanging baskets and geraniums as well as some started veggies for school garden use

“Someday, maybe, we’ll even have strawberries,” she said.

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