On September 18, the University of Valparaiso (VU) Biology Club partnered with the Pinney Agricultural Center at Purdue University to conduct research on pumpkin growth.
“We helped the Pinney Purdue Agricultural Center complete a project they were working on with growing pumpkins. They were looking at different tillage methods, as well as different cover crops and their effects on pumpkin production, ”said Helene Bee, biology major and member of the Biology Club. “We harvested pumpkins and then weighed them. This data will be used to draw conclusions about how to grow pumpkins. “
The Pinney Agricultural Center, located in Wanatah, IN, conducted experiments on the effects of tillage versus no-till methods during pumpkin cultivation. Collective data collected from the facility and VU students will add to the growing collection of research into agricultural methods.
“Because this research is directly applied to producers in the region, it was beneficial to understand the current research practices and then be able to think about the different types of land use that could be used by the farmers who would come out of this” said Grace Fleszewski, a double major in environmental science and geography and club member. “The goal of this, while there is comprehensive research that has been done on no-till versus tillage, it has not been simplified or done specifically in this area.”
The data collected from the biology club will be used throughout the community. While the members specifically examined the results of the Purdue installation, their findings have many applications and narrow the research down to distinct regional issues.
“Given that you have different types of soils or an average climate in an area, it is very helpful to say that this is what is happening in our landscape and that these are the different types of techniques that you can use on your landscape to get rid of area-specific problems, like area-specific pests or drought conditions during those months, ”Fleszewski said.
Carrying out pumpkin research with the Pinney Agricultural Center has not been an annual event for the club. However, they have worked in the community on several occasions since the club came to VU.
“The Biology Club is very committed to giving back to the community in an environmental way. The pumpkin research was an effort to give back in this way, ”said Payton Wills, president of the Biology Club. “It’s one of our missions as a club, it’s written in our statutes. Provide members with the opportunity to give back to their environment.
For this particular event, participants recognized the value of contributing to the growing body of knowledge for the agricultural field.
“It was interesting for me to see what resources are available in this region. I had no idea there were these research farms that they were using, ”Bee said. “I am more interested in agricultural research after this experience. It was interesting to be there and do something practical and apply some of the things we learned to a real situation.
In addition, the club is looking for potential future projects not only to help the environment, but also to strengthen the bonds between members.
“As long as we can find more partnerships, I think [community research] is a great idea. This will allow us to get fellowship as a group, I know I felt really connected with everyone while I was there, giving everyone the chance to participate in the research and give back to the community. “Said Fleszewski.
Overall, participating in research and service opportunities becomes essential to promote professional and personal values.
“I think it helps prepare VU students to continue their professional careers and their lives, because we are the face of the world in the future,” said Wills. “It is important that we instill these values in VU students so that upon graduation we can contribute to a more productive society in terms of environmental conservation. “