Fafard Showcases Research And Leader Program

Some interns are assigned the greenhouse grunt work, but 13 interns in the Fafard Research Leader Program participated in a six-month research trial that tested advanced potting media formulations to help growers achieve healthier and more profitable plants.

The research project, which launched in January and concluded in June, had three phases with different focuses: Phase 1 focused on unrooted cuttings and seedlings, Phase 2 on finished plants and Phase 3 on garden soil or container garden media.

Other goals of the trials were to generate awareness in the horticultural industry of Fafard’s research and development capabilities, and enhance skill set and professionalism of horticultural interns seeking industry positions or advanced degrees.

More than 300 individual experiments were conducted, and 37 plant types were evaluated at 27 separate greenhouse operations in 13 states. Data collected included photographs of treatment comparisons, visual quality, root quality, plant height, diameter and media pH and EC. The interns, also referred to as research leaders, was required to write weekly reports that outlined each research week’s events.

“This program was different because I was given a lot more responsibility. That’s unusual,” says Sarah Jane Humke-Mengel, a Fafard research leader who conducted her research at Knox Nursery and Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses in Florida.  “A lot of times, people put their interns in spots where they can’t cause a lot of damage.

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