Northern Michigan University utilises shipping container agriculture growing centre to enhance education
The Northern Michigan University (NMU) has deployed a state-of-the-art shipping container growing centre on its grounds in a bid to enhance its indoor agriculture program’s research, partnership and education opportunities.
The shipping container comes equipped with cloud software to monitor water, nutrients and pH levels remotely via cell phone. It also comes with LED lighting that doubles as a heat source for the plants as well as an air-conditioning system for additional climate control.
The operations of the growing centre will be supervised by students and the produce generated from the shipping containers will be distributed to NMU’s hospitality management program and campus dining facilities.
Kim Smith Kolasa, Assistant Professor and program coordination says that the container has its own seeding area, so students can germinate seeds, grow seedlings and transfer those into the vertical growing channels to reach full maturity.
“They will grow leafy greens – from lettuce to kale to chards – and herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley to share with campus. On research and experimental side, they will work on growing fruiting crops like strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes,” Kolasa said.
Evan Lucas, another Assistant Professor of the program added, “this means a lot for the program because it gives us immediate space that was really needed. We’ve already exceeded the lab space we had last year because we added seven pieces of equipment. We can fit a lot of students at once in the container because it’s mostly taken up with grow space, but it provides a lot of opportunity for research and use in upper-level classes. It’s impressive that we’ve already reached this point only one year into the program.”
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