Piper McCullough is a student in the Sustainable Agriculture program at Skagit Valley College, located in Mount Vernon, WA. Her future goals include earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Conservation, and starting a career in Permaculture Consultation.
She chose to include Hydroponics as part of her study focus, in order to contribute to the progression of alternate methods of plant management. In a world where our soils are being depleted at an alarming rate, it is increasingly important to support systems which offer potential to slow destructive results, from conventional management practices. Hydroponics have shown great promise and have already been successfully integrated into large scale plant production in Iceland. There have also been advances in hydroponic integration in Africa, where much of the land is challenging, if not impossible to manage. Hydroponics offer new solutions towards keeping the future of plant management sustainable.
The research being done by Piper, for the Northwest Orchid Society, investigates whether a variety of orchid species would thrive on a hydroponic farm wall system. Three orchid species are being studied: B. nodosa x C. guttata alba, L. purpurata var. flammea (dark) x self, E. cordigera x Psh. prismatocarpa. These are split into four substrate groups; a sphagnum moss control group, a bark mix control group, a full-sun farm wall group, and a shaded farm wall group. The shade intends to mimic the orchid’s natural epiphytic canopy habitat.
The presentation for this research was originally set for the June meeting. However, due to Covid restrictions, the project start was significantly delayed, and was also affected by limited access to the college campus and Greenhouse. Thus, the presentation is being postponed until the December meeting, in order to give the orchids a proper chance to bloom. This decision also brings the project closer to the intended year of research.