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Academic growth

Local dairy farm basis of Grenfell graduate's master's research

special feature: Class of 2021

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Pamela Gill

Muhammad Faran’s research may change the way farmers grow produce in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Faran, who will graduate this spring with a master of science in boreal ecosystem and agricultural sciences degree, came to Grenfell Campus from Jhang, Punjab, Pakistan, in July 2018.

Industry + graduate student research

His research focus, titled Potential Use of Dairy Digestate as a Biofertilizer: Effects on Growth and Yield of Lettuce in Hydroponics, is the result of a collaboration between Grenfell Campus and New World Dairy, located in St. David’s, N.L.

Industry collaboration has been a central aim of Grenfell’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies, especially involving graduate students in that research.

“Mr. Faran’s work, and other graduate students, is doing with New World Dairy is of utmost importance to the future of hydroponic greenhouse agriculture in our province,” said Dr. Mumtaz Cheema, graduate student supervisor and interim associate vice-president, research and graduate studies.

“His findings will help us understand how we can use a previously discarded waste source as part of a rich biofertilizer.”

Hydroponic-based agriculture

To put it simply, Mr. Faran used the digestate, or manure, of the cows at the dairy farm as a fertilizer for lettuce in his hydroponic greenhouse laboratory.

“Hydroponic vegetable production using anaerobic digestate liquid waste as a sole nutrient source is a pragmatic approach to integrate food production and liquid waste management,” Mr. Faran said.

“Dairy digestate could be used as a sustainable organic fertilizer for lettuce production in hydroponic system.”

The added plus is that dairy farmers have a new approach for waste management.

“I will always remember the friendliness and kindness of all the faculty, staff and students.” — Muhammad Faran

Mr. Faran hopes to continue his work through Grenfell’s new PhD in boreal ecosystems and agricultural science program, which will take in its first students in September.

“Grenfell has well qualified professionals and the fee structure here at Grenfell is low as compared to other universities in Canada,” he said, adding that he has applied for his wife, Shagufta Rasheed, to join him in Corner Brook.

“I will always remember the friendliness and kindness of all the faculty, staff and students.”

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