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HCC HORTICULTURE STUDENTS USING HYDROPONICS TO GROW PLANTS

WELDON, N.C. – The Halifax Community College (HCC) Horticulture Technology Program is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the college, Apr. 29-May 5. Students in the program are currently converting a film-developing table donated by Advertising & Graphic Design Instructor Gloria Tysinger into a hydroponic system to grow plants.

Hydroponic production is the technology of growing plants in a nutrient solution of water and fertilizer. The earliest recordings of hydroponics were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. A number of different hydroponic systems exist. During this conversion, students took the stainless steel sink and added a pond liner. They also added tubing to the center drain for the ebb and flow, also called flood and drain, system to work.

“Many people are going this way to grow plants. In fact, a lot of tomatoes are grown this way,” said student Jerry Dickerson. Plants can potentially grow bigger and faster this way.

This particular hydroponic system pumps nutrients and water to the plants for a certain amount of time, four times a day. When the pump is turned off, air is then pushed up to enhance root growth.

“You don't have the diseases that you would have with soil. The roots get everything and you can get quicker growth. You have more control over the plants by giving them the nutrients they need,” said Dickerson. “You don't need as much land with this system.”

Advantages of hydroponics include more efficient use of water and fertilizers, no soil is required, space requirements and growing time are lessened, heavy work is reduced, nutrients are recyclable, weeds are lessened, and crop rotation is no longer needed. Primary crops grown in a hydroponic system are peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs, and strawberries. According to Dickerson, about 60% of the tulips grown in Holland are grown this way.

Some disadvantages include potentially high set up costs, skill and knowledge of pH levels are necessary for optimum production, and not all plants are suitable. Also, plants can have quick reactions to any conditions.

The Horticulture Technology Department is also holding an online trivia contest for the campus during the week. Free herb plants will be awarded to winners.

Horticulture Technology is a two-year associate in applied science degree program that prepares graduates for careers in greenhouses, nurseries, landscape companies, and as business owners. Graduates are skilled in landscape design and installation, starting a horticulture business, designing and managing a nursery or greenhouse, and plant propagation techniques. Courses in the curriculum include plant materials and propagation, turf management, and landscape design.

For more information about the Horticulture Technology Program, contact Horticulture Technology Instructor Carolyn Evans at (252) 536-7209 or via e-mail at evansc@halifaxcc.edu.

Halifax Community College (HCC) Horticulture Technology Program students are converting a film-developing table into a hydroponic system to grow plants. During this conversion, students took the stainless steel sink and added a pond liner. They also added tubing to the center drain for the ebb and flow system to work. HCC students are growing this potato plant using a homemade drip irrigation system.