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A ribbon cutting for the newly completed WIU School of Agriculture's new greenhouse was held Friday, which included WIU administrators and project contributors.
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Phase Two of School of Ag Greenhouse Project Officially Opened Friday

April 3, 2017

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MACOMB, IL – A ceremonial purple ribbon was cut Friday afternoon, officially opening the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture's third greenhouse, and widening teaching and research opportunities available to the University's faculty and students.

University and School of Ag administrators gathered with city officials to celebrate the opening of Phase Two of the greenhouse project, which adds one 16-foot by 48-foot building to the two existing structures. The other two buildings opened in December 2014, completing Phase One. All three buildings sit next to each other, near the University's Livestock Center, just north of campus.

School of Ag Director Andy Baker said Phase Two of the project was paid for by three major donors through their financial support.

"This could not have happened without these three major supporters," he said.

Phase One of the project was completed with funding provided by the University, the College of Business and Technology and the School of Ag.

Baker said the addition of the third structure creates important research opportunities for students and faculty at the University.

During Friday's ceremony, tours of the new and existing buildings were given, with students and faculty explaining the research opportunities the buildings provide them. The newest building also houses a spray chamber, which allows specialized herbicide treatment, as well as a section lit with LEDs, allowing research on the impact of different lighting sources on plants.

Sophomore agriculture major Allyson Rumler, of Canton, IL, said she used the spray chamber for the first time last week. Rumler works as a research assistant at the greenhouses, and her current project involves testing herbicide application on water hemp plants.

"I gave the plants six doses of herbicide, and we are testing to see at what dose does the herbicide resistant weeds stop producing viable seed," she said.

Senior agriculture business major Luke Merritt of Payson, IL, is also a research assistant at the greenhouses. Merritt said he is impressed with the variety of opportunities the new facilities provide for WIU students.

"There are some ag majors who don't come from family farms," said Merritt. "This gives students a chance to actually see the plants, weeds and ornamentals."

WIU Agriculture Professor Win Phippen is conducting biofuel research through breeding a wide variety of pennycress plants in one of the existing greenhouses. His work is being completed through a grant from the breeding program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Phippen said the new greenhouse bays will be used to conduct research in weed science.

WIU Associate Professor of Agriculture Mark Bernards said one of the best aspects of the new greenhouse addition is the opportunities it offers WIU students to complete research without leaving campus.

"This enables us to do more hands-on labs with plants in the winter," he said. "January through April, there is nothing we can do outside."

Baker said the hope is to add more greenhouse structures on the site as funding becomes available, allowing for more growing bays, classrooms, a chemical-mixing area and storage facilities.

Ground was broken for Phase 2 in July 2016, and construction began later that month.

For more information on the greenhouse project, contact Baker at (309) 298-1080 or by email at, or visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing