Sechrest Scholar

Asher Haug-Baltzell, an undergraduate in Plant Sciences, completed a reserach project for honors credit in PLS330 (Plant Propagation) in the Fall of 2011. As a reseracher in the Controlled Environment Greenhouses, Asher worked with other students to develop a new NFT hydroponics system using organic compost teas in place of standard Hoagland's nutrient solution. At 11 days post germination, seedlings were transferred into the hydroponics systems and grown on to maturity. However, Asher's experience led him to wonder if the seedling media could be optimized to produce vigorous plants that would resist transplant shock upon transfer to the NFT system. With generous support from the Sechrest family, Asher designed and completed an experiment to test the optimum media in which to produce lettuce seedlings. He used combinations of coconut coir, worm castings and a compost tea fertilizer for the propagation of lettuce destined for a NFT hydroponic system. Lettuce seeds were germinated in different media and measured for germination rate, leaf number, leaf area, seedling height and root branching. By comparing with standard rock wool media, Asher determined that a media composed of 70% coconut coir and 30% castings fertilized daily with 10mL of compost tea produced the highest quality seedlings.  Click here to view his final report.