Alabama Farmers Federation support earned the state’s largest farm organization top billing on two state-of-the-art greenhouse research rooms at HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology in Huntsville.
The $200,000 contribution through the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation supports vital facilities where scientists create real change impacting Alabama farmers’ production methods and bottom line.
“For over 100 years, the Alabama Farmers Federation has been on the frontlines of agricultural research and innovation,” said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan. “Work done in this greenhouse will chart a new course for agriculture, just as hybridization and commercial fertilizer did in their day.
“Our mission is to improve the quality of life for all Alabamians, and HudsonAlpha is helping us achieve that goal by developing tools farmers can use to be more productive, profitable and sustainable.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation Potting/Education Room and Alabama Farmers Federation Grow Room were completed last summer in HudsonAlpha’s Kathy L. Chan Greenhouse.
The Potting/Education Room is one of the largest rooms within the 14,000-square-foot greenhouse and provides an environment where plants destined for one of the greenhouse’s seven grow rooms can be potted and propagated in a sterile environment. Students also gather there for education on plant science research.
The Grow Room boasts 15-feet ceilings and can hold 500 plants. LED lighting mimics the rising and setting sun, allowing researchers like Dr. Kankshita Swaminathan to manipulate when plants flower and decrease the time it takes to breed new crop lines.
Crops grown and studied in the greenhouse include peanuts, cotton, sugar cane, sunflowers and perennial grasses used in producing biofuel and biomass.
“The Kathy L. Chan Greenhouse is critical to our work on sustainable agriculture, and support of facilities within the greenhouse gives us the resources to make discoveries happen on a larger and faster scale,” Swaminathan said. “The naming of the Alabama Farmers Federation Grow Room greatly advances my laboratory’s research on the role of perennial grasses in sustainable farming practices and the development of renewable resources.
“This gift puts us one step closer to identifying cleaner farming practices that will positively impact the state of Alabama and the world around us.”
HudsonAlpha’s greenhouse includes two cutting-edge molecular laboratories, a bioinformatics lab, a long-term temperature- and humidity-regulated seed storage vault, and access to a 2-acre research field. It’s the only greenhouse in the U.S. housing these advanced features under one roof.
HudsonAlpha’s Plant Center, where the greenhouse is located, harnesses the power of genomics to solve the agricultural challenges Federation members face. Uniting the expertise of five HudsonAlpha faculty members, the Plant Center works to identify more sustainable farming practices and create agriculturally significant crops that are drought- and disease-resistant.
“By unlocking the hidden potential of plants, HudsonAlpha is helping farmers increase productivity, improve efficiency and withstand challenges from disease, pests and weather,” Pinyan said. “HudsonAlpha is the new frontier in agricultural research, and we are proud to partner with them on this next journey in agricultural research.”