A microcomputer program is used to calculate the production and profitability of student-created apple orchard designs. The program accumulates productivity for each year following planting and uses economic parameters to determine the net present value of total orchard profits for each design. Students can alter not only design inputs and economic predictors but are encouraged to change production cost parameters to demonstrate their effects on orchard profitability over the life of the orchard.
Demonstrations and evaluations of plastic mulch, trickle irrigation, and row cover effects on vegetable crops are primarily conducted in the field (1, 2). However, field evaluations of these procedures during the summer months are often not available for observation by grower groups that traditionally meet during the winter and spring months, or by students in plant production courses taught during the spring or fall semester. This report describes a plant bed system in a greenhouse that could be used for demonstrating plastic mulch, trickle irrigation, and row cover effects on selected vegetable crops regardless of season.
To improve the communication skills of students studying horticulture, collaboration between the subject lecturers and an academic skills consultant has led to the inclusion of a writing portfolio into the curriculum of Plant Science and Physiology, a core science component of the Bachelor of Horticultural Science program. The rationale for the portfolio was that, through writing, students would engage more closely with a subject's content and would gain a better understanding of its concepts. The initiatives introduced into the portfolio include the development of nine writing portfolio tasks and model answers, an appropriate grading tool and the integration of the writing tasks into other assessment tools. The focus on writing simultaneously improved students' awareness of the standard and type of writing expected at university, allowed them to develop their written expression, and deepened their understanding of plant science.
Horticulture students often lack practical experience integrating information from diverse sources to solve complex real-life problems. Capstone courses seek to remedy this by giving students an opportunity to demonstrate a range of workplace skills such as teamwork, effective communication, and critical thinking. Sponsored competitions provide educators with an active-learning framework into which the goals of a capstone course can be developed. The Greenhouse of the Future competition allowed undergraduate students to conceptualize, develop, and prototype innovative greenhouse designs in a national competition venue. This article explains the guidelines of the Greenhouse of the Future competition and discusses how the competition was integrated into the capstone course Greenhouse Management.
The first prison-based Master Gardener (MG) program in South Carolina was piloted at a minimum security prison for men and women in Columbia in 1991. Since then, 130 inmates have become certified MGs at 7 South Carolina Department of Corrections institutions. Certification is awarded after the inmates complete 40 hours of training provided by grounds maintenance staff, county extension agents, and MGs. Besides offering green-industry job skills, successfully completing the program offered inmates a sense of academic accomplishment and sparked their interest in horticulture.
A Venturi-type proportioner (VP), trade name Hozon, can be used for an inexpensive, hands-on laboratory exercise that demonstrates the effect of water pressure on dilution ratio and water flow. Using electrical conductivity (EC) meters to determine solution concentration allows students to discover that the dilution ratio increases with water pressure, from 1:10 at 15 psi to 1:15 at 55 psi. The greater dilution at higher pressure can be explained by measuring the water flow, which is 2.3 gal/min (8.7 litersžmin-1) at 15 psi but 3.5 gal/min (13.2 litersžmin-1) at 55 psi. Experiments relating water pressure to dilution ratio provide experience in use and calibration of VPs and EC meters, as well as graph preparation and interpretation.
The North Central Consumer Horticulture Working Group developed and distributed a 14-question survey to determine the confidence of north-central U.S. extension Master Gardeners (MGs) in making integrated pest management (IPM) recommendations and their use of IPM. The online survey was completed by 3842 MGs in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. MGs indicated they personally engaged in a range of IPM practices, including prevention, monitoring, cultural, and chemical controls. However, 81% indicated a need for more training in identifying diseases, and 65% say they needed more training in identifying insects. Only 16% indicated they had received advanced pest management training within the past 5 years. These MGs had higher mean scores for confidence, as well as prevention, monitoring, and cultural control and chemical awareness/control practices than those not participating in advanced training. Years of experience as an active MG and confidence in using IPM-related garden activities were correlated positively (r = 0.261). MGs with advanced pest management training were more confident in making IPM recommendations to other gardeners and were much more likely to use IPM practices than MG without advanced training.
A variety of cooperative activities are part of the plant systematics course at The Pennsylvania State University: a learning fair hosted by the students enrolled in the course for elementary school students, applied laboratory examinations, and applied laboratory exercises. Each activity was constructed to engage students in the learning process as well as to aid in developing useful skills for future employment. A survey administered to students enrolled in the course from 2003 to 2005 revealed that most students “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that they liked working in cooperative groups and learned from other group members. Student participation in the lecture portion of the course increased as cooperative activities were completed. Organization and planning were vital to using these activities, as were small groups and adequate incentives for completing activities.
A laboratory exercise is outlined and discussed for seed priming, or osmoconditioning. The exercise was developed using an easily constructed and inexpensive seed-priming system. A variety of horticultural seeds can be used to give students experience and exposure to some of the benefits of seed priming. Seed germination data usually can be obtained within 6 to 8 days, depending on the species used. The laboratory may be modified to stress various features of seed priming, including priming agents, optimal concentrations, and ranges of germination temperatures.