A Bicton College student studying for a Foundation Degree in Horticulture has been awarded a national scholarship to support her cutting-edge work in the production of cut flowers. Fern Carroll-Smith, from Exmouth, is in her second year of the course and has won a scholarship of up to £1,000 from the David Colegrave Foundation which supports students working towards a commercial career in Horticulture. Specialising in the field of hydroponics, which focuses on the growth of plants in water without soil, Fern has been using an innovative material to cultivate plants â sheep wool. Along with nutrient-rich water, mediums typically used in hydroponics for plant growth include gravel, biochar (charcoal) and man-made fibres where plant roots can thrive. Inspired by South West based author and business woman Anna Lewington who harvests sustainably sourced rushes, and champion for rainforest conservation ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin, Fern's pioneering research using sheep wool to cultivate the Mizuna plant utilises a natural resource that can potentially be used commercially with widespread benefits. Fern, who joined Bicton College after seeing the practical plant units on offer as part of her course Foundation Degree says, I am completely delighted to have received a David Colegrave Foundation Scholarship, the scholarship will help me to pay for essential equipment for my trials as well as more general student equipment. Receiving the scholarship has also boosted my confidence in my work. In the future I hope to work in the field of commercial horticulture and horticulture technology, with the aim of reducing the environmental impacts of commercial plant production.
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