UA Controlled Environment Agriculture Center is one of the few teaching programs in the United States that includes a greenhouse laboratory as a part of the coursework. It is also the only facility that offers this commercial-sized and operated facility for hands-on education.
“This greenhouse facility provides support in space for researchers, post docs and students to do and apply basic research,” said Arturo Baez, a greenhouse manager at the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The students not only take classes in the greenhouses, but they also are involved in specific research, he explained.
Some of the courses offered at CEAC include the study of hydroponics, basic plant anatomy and nutrition, irrigation systems, nutrient solutions, and transplant production.
Randy Landwerlen majors in agricultural technology management. His focus is in crop production, but his background, so far, has been more traditional agriculture.
“This class is pretty new for everybody in here, but it is really hands on,” said Landwerlen, who is taking Introduction to Hydroponics and Controlled Environmental Agriculture. “You start off with regular lessons every day, and then you come out here, transplant plants into a growing aggregate, get them set up and take care of the tomatoes through their whole life.”
UA greenhouses are home for interdisciplinary science, engineering and technology education, said Patricia Rorabaugh, who received a Ph.D. in Plant Sciences.
In the last 60 years, additions, such as heating, cooling, computer control, primarily steel structure and glass or plastic transparent covering, brought us where we are today, she explained. They all helped create that perfect environment for the plants in greenhouses, she said.