Technology helps gardens grow at Penn State
June 21, 2016
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A group of Penn State students huddles over a wooden worktable in Headhouse II. Their hands move in unison as they clip the leaves and clean a harvest of microgreens, which were planted in the greenhouse in early spring. In a few days, the gardeners-in-training will dine on the tiny leaves (that look more like shamrocks than lettuce) during an end-of-semester potluck.
Alongside their microgreens, the students grew organic tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and herbs as part of a hydroponics and aquaponics class, which taught the ins-and-outs of using soilless processes to grow plants. The students’ efforts — which on a weekly basis yielded up to 80 pounds of cucumbers alone — were a success, in part, due to new technology added to the nearly 60-year-old greenhouse.
Thirty years of research supports cacao farmers, chocolate industry
June 15, 2016
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When trade organizations representing the chocolate industry created an endowment in 1986 to support Penn State research on Theobroma cacao -- the cocoa tree -- the use of biotechnology to improve plants was still in its infancy.
Now, three decades later, the endowment has grown, and along with it the scientific knowledge that is helping to promote economic security for cocoa farmers in developing countries and to ensure a reliable supply of the raw material needed to manufacture one of the world's favorite delicacies.
The race to create super-crops
June 2, 2016
Old-fashioned breeding techniques are bearing more fruit than genetic engineering in developing hyper-efficient plants.