Greenback crop needed: NDSU seeking to raise $5 million for news greenhouse
Officials planning a $7 million greenhouse complex at North Dakota State University must raise a lot of greenbacks to make it happen. The Legislature authorized $2 million in bonding for the Research Greenhouse Complex, leaving NDSU to raise the ...
Officials planning a $7 million greenhouse complex at North Dakota State University must raise a lot of greenbacks to make it happen.
The Legislature authorized $2 million in bonding for the Research Greenhouse Complex, leaving NDSU to raise the remaining $5 million.
During its meeting today in Grand Forks, the state Board of Higher Education is expected to give NDSU permission to start the fundraising campaign.
The greenhouse complex would provide NDSU faculty and students with cutting-edge research space that is lacking at the current greenhouse complex on the southwest corner of campus, said Albert Schneiter, head of plant sciences at NDSU.
The university's main greenhouses were built in the 1950s. NDSU also shares space with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its nearby Northern Crop Science Laboratory.
"The bottom line is our programs have expanded and we have added new programs, and our greenhouse facilities are maxed out," said Ken Grafton, director of the NDSU Agricultural Experiment Station.
If the university wants to attract federal funding for research on transgenic crops, it must provide secure space that meets federal guidelines, Grafton said. That includes a high-tech ventilation system to stop genetically altered pollen from escaping the building.
The new complex would be used primarily by faculty and students in entomology, plant pathology, soil sciences and plant sciences, Schneiter said.
Calling the complex a "darn good investment" for North Dakota, Schneiter said it would provide a controlled setting for important research on crop diseases, insects and wheat, among other crops.
"The amount of money that's been put into greenhouses, considering the importance of crops in the state, has not been very good," he said.
NDSU has designated the southwest corner of 18th Street and 15th Avenue North as the site for the complex.
The original floor plan calls for 19 rooms for transgenic research, plus growth chambers, a threshing room and a seed cleaning area for transgenic crops. The complex also would feature three rooms for disease inoculation, dryer facilities, a spray chamber, five research labs, autoclave rooms, clean soil storage and a plant and soil disposal area.
Because lawmakers approved half of the $4 million in bonds requested, the original 56,000-square-foot design must be scaled back, Grafton said.
NDSU has formed a fundraising committee and wants to begin construction in the next two years, he said. The committee will seek funds from the agriculture industry, commodity groups and other interested parties.
"We hope that if we're successful in obtaining the $5 million, we can come back to the state in 2007, 2009," Grafton said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528