The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (Ohio State ATI) greenhouse students can now engage in a hydroponic crop production course. The course is available to students in the greenhouse management and greenhouse engineering technology specializations.
“Greenhouse programs used to focus primarily on the floriculture industry since floriculture comprised the majority of Ohio’s greenhouse production,” says Dr. Uttara Samarakoon, coordinator of ATI’s greenhouse programs. “During the past few years, there has been a boom in small- to large -scale hydroponic produce growers in Ohio and across the country.” Samarakoon says the curriculum of greenhouse and nursery management program was changed in fall 2018 to train students in both floriculture and food crop production. These changes were highly welcomed by both ATI’s greenhouse program the advisory to reflect the interests of both enrolled and prospective students. The changes also add value to the greenhouse engineering technology specialization, which is the only two-year program in the U.S. in this discipline.
One of ATI’s teaching greenhouses is allocated for hydroponic crop production. Students in the greenhouse hydroponic production course can grow hydroponic crops in multiple systems, some of the which were donated by Paul Brentlinger of Cropking, Inc., a hydroponic equipment supplier. Students grow high wire tomatoes, microgreens and leafy green crops using the nutrient film technique and deep-water culture. Vertical aeroponic systems were added in 2019.
Students who graduate in 2019 will have opportunities in food crop production across a wide range of commercial production greenhouses, institutional research/teaching greenhouses and in public horticulture. With some students starting their own hydroponic produce businesses in their hometowns, the program also provides the required training for the expansion of local food production.
ATI is located on the Wooster, Ohio, campus of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and serves 650 students. In keeping with Ohio State’s land grant mission, ATI provides affordable, accessible associate degree programs that lead directly to employment or bachelor’s degrees.
For more information or if you are interested in hiring interns or graduates from the program, contact Samarakoon at 330-287-1241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.