Wednesday, 09 March 2016

Greenhouses go high-tech

TECHNOLOGY: Two of the six new greenhouses that have been constructed at the CPUT Bellville Campus TECHNOLOGY: Two of the six new greenhouses that have been constructed at the CPUT Bellville Campus

Advanced automatic heating and cooling systems, sterile foot baths and automatic solar screens are just some of the impressive features of CPUT’s six new greenhouses.

With the finishing touches added late last year to the two research greenhouses, these high-tech greenhouses are set to open for business this month when students of the Department of Horticultural Sciences start their academic year.

Constructed at the nursery premises on the Bellville Campus, the greenhouses are a welcome addition to the department, which is the only in the Western Cape institution offering a course that focuses specifically on ornamental horticulture.

Head of programme, Dr Chris Daniels says the greenhouses will play a central role in practical teaching and learning activities and serve as the department’s laboratories.

“These are state of the art, world class facilities and all systems are on par with national and industry requirements” he says.

The greenhouses have automatic heating and cooling systems, rain water harvesting systems, artificial lighting systems, automatic solar screens, propagation systems and sterile foot baths.

Each greenhouse came at a price tag of just over R 700 000 with the biggest greenhouse measuring well over 270 square meters.

Daniels says each of the greenhouses have a specific function, with two dedicated for research, while the other four are being utilised by undergraduate students for various propagation and cultivation processes.

The greenhouse in the courtyard of the design building is known as the display greenhouse and will specifically focus on plant identification. This greenhouse boasts four automatically independently controlled climatic zones and will display plants from different biomes in South Africa.

img-Greenhouses-go-high-tech-2ADVANCING RESEARCH: Head of programme, Dr Chris Daniels takes a look at some plants in one of the new greenhouses that will be used by postgraduate students for research

Daniels says one very important feature of all the greenhouses is the sterile foot baths at the entrances of each greenhouse.

“This will limit the spread of diseases by students and visitors into our greenhouses and teach students the importance of sanitation in horticulture. Greenhouses must be treated like laboratories and improper disease control can have serious negative impacts on plant production” he says.

“The Department of Horticultural Sciences is proud to have these state of the art world class facilities, to give our undergraduate and postgraduate students possibly the best horticultural experience in the country,” says Daniels.

Written by Candes Keating

Tel: +27 21 959 6311

Provides coverage for the Engineering and Applied Sciences Faculties; the Bellville and Wellington Campuses, and research and innovation news.