University of Regina researchers and Miller Comprehensive Catholic High School students collaborate on pesticide project

News Release Release Date: April 22, 2015 10:15 a.m.

University of Regina researchers continue to lead the way in supporting healthy community living. Dr. Tanya Dahms, project lead, along with Drs. Chris Yost and Scott Wilson from the Faculty of Science, are collaborating with students from Miller Comprehensive Catholic High School (MCCHS) on a project that uses the Plant Health Care Model (PHCM) to avoid the use of pesticides.

“The Plant Health Care Model is a safe and environmentally-friendly alternative to toxic pesticides for which we have demonstrated proof-of-principle on campus,” said Dr. Dahms. “This project supports our University’s commitment to sustainability and community engagement by linking the next generation of leaders in our city to research that has the potential to make our shared green spaces safer for everyone.”

PHCM uses a combination of hand weeding, other standard methods, and compost tea sprays to replace healthy soil bacteria that are required to release nutrients into the soil from decomposing dead plants.

In partnership with University of Regina researchers, Biology teachers Heather Haynes and Nicole Anderson lead the group of 14 students at MCCHS examining the ecology of the test plots. The preliminary qualitative results indicate that the PHCM plot had richer turf than the plot that used pesticides - even without aeration, over seeding, and organic fertilizers.

“It is great to have a partnership between our students and the University of Regina to explore a green approach to lawn care” said Jamie Bresciani, MCCHS principal. “Especially on Earth Day it is important to realize that it is our students today who will create a better world for tomorrow.”

The collaboration enables the student research team to learn the scientific method and laboratory tools in a professional research setting, while gaining valuable insight into common environmental challenges in our own community. It also helps students become aware of possible career options as researchers, particularly in the environmental sciences.

The PHCM project was made possible with support from the University of Regina Sustainability and Community Engagement Fund and supports the University’s Strategic Plan, which identifies sustainability and community engagement as key priorities for the University.


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