UTIA Greenhouses: Facility Overview

History and Significance

Between 2008 and 2012, UTIA commissioned the construction of three large, state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities on the UTK Agriculture campus to replace several smaller greenhouses built in 1964.  Based on location, relative to each other, the new greenhouses were named Central, South and North. The opening of North Greenhouse in 2012 meant that the Institute had increased the amount of new glasshouse growing space to a combined 22,000 square feet.  When the ancillary space used for the headhouses, classrooms, common laboratories, mechanical rooms, storage closets, upper lofts and restrooms is included, the total footprint of the three new facilities covers 39,000 square feet.    Faculty representing several UTIA departments utilize these greenhouses for various research, teaching and extension programs such as reforestation, phytoremediation, soil biology, plant diseases, insect biology, plant breeding and propagation, plant nutrition, organic agriculture, turfgrass science, biotechnology and biofuels,  landscape and public horticulture, and protected agriculture including fruit and vegetable production.

Access, Management and Services

The Greenhouse Bylaws direct the handling of greenhouse affairs, including the structural organization of the committee which is comprised of both UTIA staff and faculty members.    Interested faculty have the opportunity to apply for space in these new facilities when the call for applications is announced in January and July of each year.  Limiting faculty space assignments to a maximum of two years per application helps to ensure a fair and equitable space opportunity for those faculty in need of greenhouse space for their programs.  Providing oversight and centralized management of the greenhouses is the UTIA Greenhouse Manager, Lori Osburn.  She monitors the structures and their control systems and offers comprehensive support to all faculty, staff and graduate students using the greenhouses.  All users have access to customized advice, assistance and training regarding project needs and plant maintenance procedures.

Technical Features

All three greenhouses are Venlo style structures operated with a Priva climate control system. This particular combination offers a large number of custom climate options for a wide range of crops and provides complete automation to optimize, manage and control the growing environment. Although the greenhouses can be used to grow nearly any crop, each was designed to provide a particular function.

Central Greenhouse (2008)

  • 6 Bays: each 945 sq. ft.
  • High light intensity, favoring field crops research
  • De-ionized water supply
  • Large headhouse work area

South Greenhouse (2009)

  • 10 Bays: 2 x 1,200 sq. ft., 4 x 630 sq. ft., 4 x 945 sq. ft.
  • Large and small classrooms with Smart Board technology
  • Headhouse layout enables student observation and access for hands-on training

North Greenhouse (2012)

  • 10 Bays: each 630 sq. ft.
  • Increased containment, facilitates entomological and plant pathology research
  • 4 laboratories
  • Chemical fume hood
  • Specialized root washing sink
  • De-ionized water supply