27 July 2018

Commercial Horticulture Students to Benefit From New £1.5m State-of-the-Art Glasshouse

By Philip Orrell

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With the production horticulture sector offering progressively high-tech, challenging careers, there’s never been a more exciting time to study a BSc (Hons) or FdSc Commercial Horticulture programme at Hadlow College.

These programmes offer undergraduates the opportunity to undertake numerous collaborative research projects with leading specialist growers, breeders and distributors - nurturing mutually beneficial relationships between the science community, education and horticulture.

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Students embarking on the programmes will benefit from Hadlow’s brand new, £1.5m state-of-the-art glasshouse at its Court Lane campus. Installed by CambridgeHOK, who constructed the 90-hectare complex at Thanet Earth, the new 1,024m2 Venlo structure is unique, being both fully commercial and adapted for degree-level research.

Split into three separate compartments: a tomato centre, a pepper centre and a research centre used for dissertations and other student projects, such as LED light trials and propagation facilities, the glasshouse is managed by the latest Priva climate control technology. The propagation area is adapted for both seeds and cuttings and features a vertical growing system for micro salads and herbs, sustained by LED grow lights, with no reliance on natural light.

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Much of the crop produced within it will go on to be sold in the Hadlow College Farm Shop, demonstrating the College’s 360-degree approach: bringing its commercial arms together with its academic teaching, enabling students to see how their work effects the consumer.

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Groundwork for the glasshouse will begin on the 30th July, the structure will be up by mid-November and will be fitted out by the end of January 2019. The facility represents a significant investment in horticulture education nationally, serving to drive curriculum innovation and broaden the opportunities for student research.

Such is the industry demand for production horticulture graduates, many former Hadlow students have gone straight into industry upon finishing the programme, and are now working in a variety of roles such as Technical Manager, NPD Coordinator, Fruit Technologist and Quality Control for well-respected businesses such as Thanet Earth, Edward Vinson, DPS and Prepworld.