UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Student Projects

Rain Garden

Rain Garden
The goal of the Greenhouse Rain Garden Project was to design and build a rain garden south of the campus greenhouse. Precipitation and snow‐melt from the greenhouse roof was discharged on an embankment which, as a result, was prone to soil erosion. There was a bed of rocks surrounding the outflow pipes. This riprap only slowed down the water flow. A rain garden in that location allows the water to infiltrate the soil so that it will not further erode the hill.

A major issue in the spring is the melting snow runoff onto the bike path at the bottom of the hill. The runoff freezes at night and may present a slipping hazard to foot and bicycle traffic. The rain garden also reduces warm water runoff into the Kinnickinnic River, which is a Class I trout stream, meaning the water needs to be cooler when entering the river. Another benefit of having a rain garden is that it helps to enhance the appearance of the area. The rain garden will include many colorful plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Rain Garden student workDuring construction we removed the rock bed and dug a trench to extend the pipe down to the rain garden. We then began digging the garden, laid a gravel base for the blocks, and built the wall with the retaining wall blocks. The final part of construction was to plant and add mulch. To prevent any further erosion a silt fence was put up and erosion control mats were laid on the bare soil with grass seed on top.

Agricultural engineering technology majors Nicholas Frazer, Alexus Heldt, Matthew Peterson, Austin Hausladen, Dylan Heimmermann, Jenna Schauer, Megan Beisner, Brett Breitenfeldt, and Mitchell Earll all worked on various portions of the project. The project also included input from CAFES Professors Dr. David Zlesak, Dr. Sonja Maki, Dr. Joel Peterson and Dr. Joe Shakal, as well as Joe McIntosh in UWRF Facilities Management.

For more information about the Greenhouse Rain Garden Project, see the group's research poster.

Equine Arena Drag

The equine arena drag was a project that was proposed and developed in the fall semester of 2013. The UWRF equine program came to the AET department in need of an arena drag that would penetrate the soil at a depth of 4 inches and leave a "fluffed" and groomed arena look. Upon approval and funding of the project, AET students designed and fabricated a generation one drag.

After use of the first drag, several additional features were requested from the university equine program that would make grooming of the arena a more efficient process. After redesigning and testing a generation two drag was created. The generation two drag included hydraulic depth control, a hydraulically adjustable soil leveling blade, rear soil smoothing bars, replaceable adjustable soil penetrating teeth, and an extra wide wheel base all mounted on a sturdy steel frame. Each key design feature can be seen in the featured video. The generation two drag is currently in use at the UWRF Campus Farm.

The completion of the arena drag was a time consuming and labor intensive process and the AET department would like to acknowledge the hard work of all students and staff involved.

Pond Rehab

Ducks Unlimited PondThe project began because the UWRF Ducks Unlimited Club was interested in doing some work on campus that would benefit waterfowl. The club noticed a pond was in need of maintenance, including cleaning the dikes of brush and trees and repairing a leak in the dike. Students met with UWRF Facilities Management, which permitted the club to proceed in cleaning up the pond.

The Ducks Unlimited Seminar Project team, which led the pond project, was able to rent equipment from a local retailer to cut and remove brush, along with landscaping the dike. The team cleaned up the pond and removed the brush from the site. The team also bought a wetland mix of seed, temporary erosion control mats, and permanent erosion control mats. The pond is now in a condition such that it only requires ordinary care by UWRF grounds-keepers.

The Ducks Unlimited Pond Rehabilitation project offered Agricultural Engineering Technology student the rare opportunity to put skills that they learned in class to work. Some skills required for this project included surveying with a Total Station instrument, performing design work in Autodesk AutoCAD software and calculating the amount of seed needed for the pond and dike. Hands-on work experience like this can lead to careers in many areas like the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other environmental working groups.

Ducks Unlimited Bobcat

Ducks Unlimited Students

Methane Digester

DavidVonRuden_2David Von Ruden, senior in Agricultural Engineering Technology with an emphasis on the environment, was awarded a Falcon Grant by the UWRF Society of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity (SURSCA). His research project, titled Bench Scale Methane Digester, explores the feasibility of green fuel technologies.

David, with the Bench Scale Digester team, has assembled a small-scale digester that produces and captures usable fuel from manure and organic matter from the Mann Valley Farm. The funds from the Falcon Grant will aid in purchasing proper materials to build a stable and working digester.

"The project has many applications for cross departmental involvement," says David. "Once the digester is working properly a use for the gas on campus could be researched. One application may be heating or cooking. It could possibly be used for supplemental heating of the Greenhouse."

Specifically for David, this project will give him real-world experience managing a project that is directly applicable to his chosen field of green technologies and sustainable fuel.

Student Organizations

Students created Falcon Fuels and are producing biodiesel from soybeans and waste vegetable oil generated by campus food service and using it to power campus vehicles.

Each year teams of students design and build a 1/4-scale tractor and compete in the International Student Design Competition sponsored by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). Learn more about UWRF's Falcon Pullers.

The Agricultural Industry Club is for students who like to tour places, meet new people and like to get their hands dirty. We do a lawn mower tune-up and a snow blower tune-up in spring and fall.

View all CAFES student organizations