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Ferguson College of Agriculture

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 "Horticulture" encompasses a huge area in modern agriculture. The grass we stand and play on, the trees that provide shade and food, the flowers and bedding plants providing beauty to our landscapes and homes, the fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops that provide a flavorful and nutritious addition to our diets are all components of Horticulture. 

Specialization Areas

Research directed by Horticulture faculty is ongoing to positively impact all of these facets of our everyday lives. Departmental graduate students become a part of research programs in one or more of our specialization areas described below. Which area are you interested in?

  • Water Quality and Utilization

    Water is one of the fundamental requirements for life - its quantity and quality impacts the well-being of all life on earth. Water policy is evolving at all levels of government to promote more efficient water use (and in some cases, re-use) in our homes, landscapes and businesses. Educational and research priorities in our department include "smart" irrigation technologies, nutrient runoff control and mitigation, performance evaluation of drought resistant cultivars, urban gray water re-use and impacts of water quality on plant performance. Our department is well positioned to prepare students for the complicated issues facing water use in the future.

  • Controlled Environments in Horticulture

    Growing plants inside a man-made structure requires a special high intensity agriculture skill set you will learn as a participant in this specialization area. Sustainability and efficiency are drivers of technologies being developed to monitor and reduce chemical nutrient inputs using handheld sensors and next generation mobile phone apps. Improved plant performance systems using precision irrigation, CO2 enrichment and LED lighting technologies are also important components of this specialization area. Ultra-high-intensity food production systems using hydroponics is an emphasis area, supporting and promoting high quality, local foods within the urban footprint. Crop performance and production specific information related to nutrition and harvesting are subjects of study to support this growing industry.

  • Turfgrass Science

    Our undergraduate program in turfgrass management is complemented by a comprehensive turfgrass science graduate specialization area. We offer a wide variety of graduate projects ranging from basic laboratory studies at the cellular level to applied field production, turf management, turfgrass landscape performance, cultivar performance, water use efficiency and reuse for on sport fields, recreational facilities and home lawns. The OSU turfgrass team has been responsible for releasing a number of new turfgrass cultivars and they are continuously evaluating promising germplasm for future cultivar releases. Students from our graduate program very positively contribute to the development and success of new OSU turfgrass cultivars being used on professional and college sports fields, golf courses as well as home lawns.

  • Ornamental Crop/Turfgrass Genetic Improvement and Plant Selection

    Plant genetic improvement starts at genetic manipulation through a variety of methods and is followed by a documented process of selection and evaluation to ensure superior plant performance. Some students in our graduate program investigate plant characteristics to target for genetic improvement while others document the performance of selections to assure stable and consistent quality in future cultivars released from OSU. If you are interested in our Controlled Environment Horticulture specialization and would like to gain experience in ornamental crop improvement through traditional breeding methods or through mutation our program has a lot to offer. If you want to learn more and become a participant in a nation-wide turfgrass performance evaluation program, we also have what you are looking for.

  • Horticultural Food Science

    Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices provide vital nutrition, flavor and zest and attractive color to food products. The beneficial bioactive chemicals (nutraceuticals) within these crops are the basis for their nutritional advantage but their quantity often changes over time, especially if proper storage or processing conditions are not followed. The production environment also impacts not only total harvestable yield but also the phytochemical cache within the crop. Our research and teaching programs offer students hands-on experience in crop production, postharvest shelf life extension and analytical assessment of plant derived chemicals, for crops consumed in a fresh or processed state. Students interested in this specialization may concentrate on technologies for improving nutrient retention in crops in a fresh or processed state, they may develop technologies to liberate and stabilize the nutrients or they may take a field-to-fork approach integrating aspects of crop production with improved shelf life/superior nutraceutical composition. This specialization, offering students an opportunity to focus on edible horticultural crops as components of a food system, is a springboard towards Ph.D. studies in programs such as Food Science, Environmental Science and Plant Science.

  •  Extraction Science

    Extraction, simply put, is the liberation of one or more components, either completely of in part, from a whole. Extraction can involve pressing of juices from fruit pulp or oil from seeds by mechanical press, volatilization and recapture of chemicals by distillation, dissolving and removal of components using a solvent, adsorption and desorption of substances from a flowing stream, etc. Some students in our program focus on extraction as a component and necessary part of their analytical method. Others utilize extraction as a means for new product development or focus on the extraction process itself to improve chemical recovery in the extract and/or maintain function of the substance being extracted. Whether you are interested in simplifying laboratory procedures or implementing better extraction technologies to create tomorrow's products, this specialization catapults you towards a career in science and technology.

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