The Interdisciplinary Studies Program in Organic Agriculture provides a unique opportunity to study the science of organic production. The program builds on a base of fundamental agricultural sciences with additional courses on organic agricultural methods, management and marketing. This program is for agriculture and horticulture students considering a career in organic food production or for any student concerned about the environmental and sociological impacts of conventional agricultural practices as well as inerest in alternative approaches. Participating students are enrolled at CSU and receive their degree from their home department, with completion of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program recorded on their official transcripts. It is among the first university organic agriculture programs in the nation.
The W.D. Holley Plant Environmental Research Center at Colorado State provides students and researchers an opportunity to observe horticulture plant materials “in action.” The Center has been in operation for 35 years, and the CSU greenhouses are nearly 60 years old. The grounds are free and open to the public any day during daylight hours. The Colorado State University Agricultural Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension Service and Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture assist by partially funding the salaries and research projects of many of the faculty involved at PERC. Financial assistance and/or plant materials for the ground areas have come from a number of sources including state horticultural professional associations, Colorado Nursery Research and Education Foundation, Colorado Floriculture Foundation, Specialty Crops Program, Colorado Garden Show, Inc., nurseries and seed companies across the nation and other horticulture-related industries.
Specialty Crops Program
The Specialty Crops Program at CSU aims to help growers master production systems and explore and develop market opportunities for their specialty crops. Vegetable, nursery, fruit, turf, ornamental, fiber, and herbs are included in this class of specialty crops. Excluded from the program’s intent are feed grains and oil crops.
Green roof research
Researchers from the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture conduct green roof research, exploring the biological performance of plant species and growing medium mixes for Colorado. Green roof research is the science of using plants on top of conventional roofs. Green roofs can provide insulation, reducing a building’s heating and cooling demands; capture and potentially clean stormwater; create wildlife habitat; and add natural, “living roof” beauty to cityscapes.
Researchers at CSU study the effect of green roofs on stormwater quality, runoff quantity, and mitigation of the urban heat-island effect (an effect in which metropolitan areas are significantly warmer than the surrounding rural areas.) By helping to mitigate environmental extremes common on conventional roofs (e.g., temperatures can reach upwards of 150 degrees on asphalt rooftops in the summer), green roofs help to lower urban air temperatures, mitigating the heat island effect.