A new high-quality glasshouse has been opened at Harper Adams University, serving the Crops and Environment Research Centre (CERC).
The glasshouse, constructed by Bridge Greenhouses, was funded by a generous donation from The Jean Jackson Charitable Trust, and will provide modern, futureproof facilities for commercial and academic crop growing trials.
Grace Smith, CERC Manager, said: “We are exceptionally grateful to the trustees for their support for the glasshouse.
“While the former structure was no longer up to commercial standards, the new Jean Jackson Glasshouse is representative of the modern, commercial environment and has been designed such that it can be retrofitted as new technology emerges, which will allow us to adapt alongside industry.”
The glasshouse is made from polycarbonate rather than glass, which allows for better thermal dynamics, making it more energy efficient. The height of the structure results in better heat dissipation, Grace explained, and electronically-controlled shade screens on the south-facing side permit better control of the growing environment.
“The glasshouse has been in use for three months ahead of the formal opening, and we are delighted with the additional specialist facilities that it is already providing to support our work” said Grace.
“We have already started to trial new LED lighting systems, to determine how plants grow differently under different lighting conditions.
“We hope that this work will prepare us well, if in the future, industry starts to move in this same direction and older lighting technology becomes obsolete.
“The generous donation by the Jean Jackson Charitable Trust has allowed us to provide a facility that is representative of our customer’s needs and to ensure that research by Harper Adams University continues to be relevant and valuable to the crop production and protection industries.”
CERC serves the needs of both external, business clients and academic researchers. While postgraduate and PhD students use CERC facilities, all levels of student at Harper Adams will benefit from the knowledge gained, thanks to work in the glasshouse.
The glasshouse was opened by Jean Jackson trustees Harvey James, Lionel Jebb and John Thorneycroft. Mr James said: “The Trustees are very pleased to provide the finance for the new Glass House. The facilities which will be made available reflect Jean Jackson’s interests in learning, particularly when related to nature.”
Commenting on the opening event, Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn, said: “We greatly value the support of the Jean Jackson Charitable Trust, with which we have been able to make rapid progress in developing new facilities for our education and research activities.
“The interest of the Trust in our work provides great encouragement for our staff and students and we would like to thank the Trustees for all they have done to assist the University.”