Policy outlined in this manual was developed to allow the efficient and effective use of the PGC while maintaining the integrity of the facility. The complexity and sophistication of the facility and the nature of research scientists has dictated the need for much of the policy contained in this manual. As experience in using and managing the facility is gained, policy will be modified to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the use of the PGC. The management committee requests your cooperation in applying this policy as well as sincerely solicits your suggestions and constructive criticisms.

The management of the facility will be a combined effort of the PGC management committee and the Dean of the College of Agriculture. The PGC management committee is comprised of seven appointed faculty members from departments involved in biological and agricultural science research, the Dean of the College of Agriculture, and the PGC Manager.

Worker Protection Standards

The PGC complies with the Environmental Protection Agency's Worker Protection Standards (WPS). Almost all PGC users fall under the ‘Agricultural Workers’ category, defined as “those who perform tasks related to growing and harvesting plants on farms or in greenhouses, nurseries or forests.” All users of the facility must have a valid WPS training form on file or a Montana Department of Agriculture Pesticide Applicator's License in their possession.

WPS training MUST be renewed on an annual basis.

WPS training is required before the PGC Manager will issue keys or approve CatCard building access.

The PGC Manager will provide WPS training upon request; contact the Manager to schedule a training. 


Space Assignment

Assignment of specific areas of the various types of PGC space will be made for a specific time interval, at the end of which use of that space must be relinquished and the space vacated. There will be no permanent assignments of space. Length of assignments will vary based on the character of individual experiments. Unless reassigned in response to a new proposal, space not vacated on schedule will be cleared and the unauthorized material contained therein will be disposed of. An extension can be obtained only by submission of a new PGC use proposal at least one month in advance of the original termination date. There will be no sub-letting of PGC space assigned to faculty. Unused or unneeded space reverts back to PGC control. Under no circumstances may modifications be made to any part of the PGC. Space will not be assigned to researchers in arrears on use or cleaning fees.

Research Facilities

Space and facility assignments for research will be made in response to PGC use proposals submitted on PGC use proposal forms available in the office of the Dean of the College of Agriculture. The PGC Management Committee will act on each proposal within two weeks of its receipt in the office of the Dean. Space and facilities will then be assigned for approved proposals according to application date and availability of space. Upon approval of each space request the researcher will receive a notice of approval.

Maintenance Fee

Use of all PGC space and facilities for research activities will be on a prepaid fee basis according to the attached fee schedule. Fees increase 4% per year. Research faculty are advised to include such fees in the budgets of grant proposals and in the budget planning process for continuing research activities such as MAES "Station projects," etc. Greenhouses, growth chambers and growth rooms are also subject to an Equipment Repair and Replacement (ERR) fee. Current rates are in the "Schedule of Use Fees" section below.

Greenhouse Units

In addition to above stated policy, space assignment in greenhouse units will include the following: On-going use in a given unit has priority over proposed use of additional vacant space in that unit in the case of incompatibility of photoperiod, temperature, disease, etc. Users assigned partial space in a unit are not free to pick and choose their area nor are they free to rotate their activity from one area to another within the unit. However, their desires, if made known, will be taken into consideration.

Growth Chambers and Growth Rooms

In addition to policy stated above, growth chamber installment and use assignment will be in accordance with the following:

Installation Space

Placement of growth chambers in the PGC will be by faculty request for such space to the PGC management committee. Approval will depend on availability of space and an inspection of the growth chamber. The procurer is responsible for all installation charges.

Units Owned by the PGC

These units will remain under jurisdiction of the PGC management committee and will be assigned for use based on research proposals as described above.

Units Owned by G&C and Others

Used growth chambers previously installed elsewhere and in functioning condition will come under the jurisdiction of the PGC management committee; however, the owner will have priority in use assignment. Owner and non-owner users will be assessed use fees according to the attached schedule. Procurers are responsible for all installation charges.

New growth chambers, under warranty, will come under the jurisdiction of the PGC management committee; however, the owner has priority in use assignment. The owner will not be assessed a use fee during the first three years. Use fees will be assessed for non-owner users from the outset and for owner users after the unit is three years old. Procurers are responsible for all installation charges.


The conservatory will be managed by the PGC Management Committee. Suggestions for this space are welcome and can be transmitted to the PGC Management Committee via the Office of the Dean of the College of Agriculture.

Special Use Support Facilities

Certain facilities were designed for very special uses and, hence, their assignment will be restricted to researchers who submit proposals for use consistent with the designed use of that facility. These facilities will remain under jurisdiction of the PGC Committee and their use will be assigned as described below. Additional policy is as follows:

Potato Improvement Laboratories

These facilities, designed for research and other activities in support of the seed potato industry, will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. Space assignment therein will be made by the PGC Management Committee coordinating with the Montana Potato Improvement Association representative in response to PGC use proposals.

Chemical Ecology and Insect Behavior Laboratory

This facility is for support of PGC research and will remain in control of the PGC Management Committee. Use and access will be through the Land Resources and Environmental Sciences (LRES) Department Head by previous arrangement only. Additional use conditions are stated elsewhere in this manual.

Insect Quarantine Laboratory and Plant Disease Isolation Units

These facilities are for support of PGC research and will remain in control of the PGC Management Committee. Insect Quarantine Lab use assignment will be made in response to the Insect Quarantine and Isolation Management Committee (IQIMC). IQIMC will advise the PGC Management Committee on space requests. The IQIMC is comprised of the quarantine officer, Entomology Research Lab Head, and the PGC Manager. Consult the Insect Quarantine Policy and Procedure Manual for additional information.

Non-Assigned PGC Support Facilities

The facilities listed below are for general support of PGC research and will remain under control of the PGC Management committee. Additional use conditions are stated elsewhere in this manual.

  • Herbicide Application Room
  • Plant Drying and Grinding Rooms
  • Soil Drying and Grinding Rooms
  • Weighing Room
  • Plant Processing Room
  • Growth Media Handling and Processing Area

Storage Facilities

Cages and Lockers

There will be no permanent or long-term assignment of space in the cages. Space in the cages will be assigned in conjunction with space assignment in greenhouse, growth rooms and growth chambers. Assignment of space in cages will be limited to the duration of the associated space assignment in one of the plant growth facilities.

Indoor Soil/Growth Media Bins

These storage bins will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee and are for use by the PGC Manager only. Provision of potting soil and artificial growth media are addressed elsewhere in this manual.

Outdoor Soil Storage

These storage bins will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. Assignment of space is by PGC use proposals as described above. Storage only of benchmark soils and soils that are the subjects of research are allowed.

Chemical Storage Rooms

These storage rooms will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. Use of both the standard chemical storage room and toxic chemical room will be coordinated by the PGC Manager. Access to and use of these rooms will be through the PGC Manager by previous arrangement only. Additional use conditions are stated elsewhere in this manual.

Pot Storage

The pot storage rooms will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. No space in these rooms will be assigned to individual faculty. Policies on provision of pots, flats, etc., are addressed elsewhere in this manual.

Plant Material Storage

These rooms will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. There is one room with a cool, moist environment and one room with an ambient environment. Additional use conditions are stated elsewhere in this manual. Plant material should be stored in rodent proof containers.

Seed Storage

This room will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. Additional use conditions are stated elsewhere in this manual.

Cabinets (Plant Processing)

The locking cabinets in the plant processing area will remain under control of the PGC Manager.

Open Storage Rooms

These rooms will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. They are not for common use.

Mechanical - Electrical - Custodial Rooms

These rooms will remain under the control of Facilities Services. Generally, they are off limits to all PGC users.

Office and Shop

The PGC office, connecting supply room and shop will remain under control of the PGC Management Committee. This office complex is for use only by the PGC Manager and staff.

Schedule of Use Fees

In order to generate funds for maintaining greenhouses, growth chambers, and growth rooms, users will be charged a monthly fee based on the amount of square footage used. Fees will be collected at the assignment of the space for the project. In addition to maintenance, funds will be used to purchase soil, pots, light bulbs, etc. and for student labor.

Square footage charges and/or flat fees per month will apply to glasshouse ranges, growth chambers, growth rooms, storage cabinets and lockers. The following fee schedule will increase 4% per year. Equipment Repair and Replacement (ERR) fees are used to repair or replace capital equipment items such as growth chambers and soil mixing equipment.

Greenhouse ranges - $0.46/sq ft/month + $0.05/ sq ft/month ERR

Growth chambers - $3.00/sq ft/month + $0.54/sq ft/month ERR

Growth rooms - $2.74/sq ft/month + $0.54/sq ft/month ERR

Plant Pathology Isolation Units - $1.71/sq ft/month

Policies regarding growth chambers and growth rooms:

PGC owned chambers and rooms have no priority use stipulations.

G & C and other agency owned:

New growth chambers and growth rooms (not previously used or currently under warranty) have priority use by owner. No user fees are charged to owner for first three years from date of installation and thereafter owner will be subject to square footage charges upon his/her use of the growth chamber. Users of growth chambers and rooms, other than owners, will be charged according to the square footage of growth space used.

Used growth chambers and growth rooms (previously used) have priority use by owner. Square footage charges applied immediately to all users of growth chambers, including owner. Procurers of growth chambers and rooms are responsible for all installation charges.

Storage-Wire cages

$5.72 per month

Cleaning of vacated space/facility/pots

$50 per incident if cleaned by PGC staff.

General PGC Operating Rules

The PGC will be periodically inspected by the management committee for rule compliance.

The PGC is designated as a no smoking facility.

These facilities are to be used only in support of PGC Research. The PGC is not to be used as a replacement of laboratory, service, etc. facilities in other buildings. Material and equipment from field research is not to be brought into the PGC for processing and/or storage.

Under no circumstances may modifications be made to any part of the PGC.

Additional Operating Rules:

The PGC Manager is responsible for overall operations, application of policies and training of project leader in use of the facilities.

Project leaders are responsible for training their employees, graduate students and anyone working for them in the proper use of greenhouse procedures and policies and is responsible for their actions. Project leaders are responsible for the actions of their employees and students, and they must ensure that their workers clean all areas in which they work. Failure to follow this policy will be grounds for rejection of space assignment. Equipment will be provided for sweeping and washing.

Use your space effectively. Failure to use space effectively will be grounds for reassignment.

Coordinate with the PGC Manager in returning all equipment and other general use items, cleaned, to their proper place when you are finished with their use.

The PGC Manager will provide a general potting mix for all assigned users. Specific plant growth medium can be prepared by the researcher from the materials provided by PGC.

The PGC Manager will provide all pots and flats for use in the facility. Any specialized pots or containers must be provided by the researcher with the approval of the PGC Manager.

All materials and equipment brought into the PGC for storage must be used in the facility.

All insect and disease control will be done by the PGC Manager or under his control. The PGC Manager will coordinate all control activities with the project leader.

When sharing growth facility space, individual researchers will not interfere with other studies being conducted in the facility; this includes watering, lighting, temperature control, and other environmental factors.

All plant materials will be watered and tended by the PGC user.

Keep experimental material free of unwanted plants and dispose of unwanted material in a garbage can, NOT UNDER BENCHES.

The temperature and light conditions for each greenhouse section will be set for the researcher by the PGC Manager.

All teaching projects in the greenhouses must be identified as follows: a) name of project leader; and b) phone number and/or email. Labels will be provided by the PGC Manager. If plant materials are identified, they will not be moved or disposed of without consultation with the instructor. Unlabeled material will be disposed of immediately.

Janitorial service will be provided in the laboratories, storage areas, and student study/lounge; however, each instructor is responsible for leaving the facilities in a clean and presentable condition after each lab and prior to another scheduled class. The instructor is also responsible for keeping the greenhouse spaces clean during use and upon termination of the activities.

Space Use

Users are responsible for keeping their space clean and orderly. PGC and Facilities staff often need to access greenhouse/growth room space for routine maintenance, and it is difficult for them to do their jobs in dirty or cluttered spaces. The user is responsible for:

  • Sweeping floors; brooms are available in multiple areas around the building
  • Keeping floor drains clear and unclogged
  • Storing hose on hose reel when not in use
  • Emptying greenhouse trash can
  • Maintaining access around all sides of greenhouse benches

In the case of equipment or maintenance issues, please contact the PGC manager as soon as possible and PGC staff will address the issue. Greenhouse items that staff are responsible for include:

  • Replacing light bulbs
  • Adjusting lighting and environmental controls (at user’s request)
  • Adjusting and/or repairing evaporative cooling pads in greenhouses
  • Replacing or repairing damaged hoses and hose reels
  • Repairing or adjusting greenhouse benches and associated hardware

Some important notes for greenhouse users:

  • Turn hoses completely OFF at the hose bib when not in use and release any water pressure remaining in the hose. Hoses that are left on and pressurized will quickly crack, separate, and leak. This is not only a waste of precious water, it drastically shortens the life of the hose and will eventually damage the hose bib itself, resulting in higher maintenance costs for the PGC.
  • Do not leave hoses lying on the floor. This creates a significant tripping hazard for PGC and Facilities staff when they need to work in the space.

Vacating Space/Experiment Termination

Researchers will be notified by the PGC Manager one month before their allotted time is up. Upon termination of each experiment the project leader is responsible for seeing that all plant material, soil, and containers are removed from the growth area, cleaned, and returned for storage or disposed of in appropriate receptacles.

When vacating greenhouse space, users are responsible for leaving their space clean and ready for the next users. This includes:

  • Cleaning off bench-tops
  • Sweeping floors
  • Emptying the trashcan
  • Removing any personal items or equipment

Once the space is fully vacated, inform the PGC manager. PGC staff will power-wash the greenhouse and prepare the space for the next user.

If researchers do not vacate and clean their area when required, user fees will continue to be charged. If the PGC staff is required to clean the area an additional $50 cleaning fee will be charged.

Soil Disposal and Composting

Composting service is provided by MSU facilities. There are two low open-top bins outside the PGC garage for compost materials. Only soil and plant materials can be composted. Any metal, plastic, paper, glass, or other trash MUST be removed and placed in the dumpster (also behind the garage). If trash is not separated properly the PGC could lose its composting privileges, so it is vital that users keep compost and trash separated properly.

Contaminated Plant and Soil Disposal

Soils and plant material treated with hazardous or radioactive compounds or chemicals are to be properly labeled and placed in receptacles in the hazardous chemical storage area. The project leader is responsible for determining safe and proper disposal procedures and seeing that they are carried out. The PGC Manager is to be notified of disposal of any such material and will arrange for their removal from the PGC.

Policies for Non-Assigned PGC Support Areas

There are several common use areas around the PGC, including the soil potting/analysis area, plant analysis area, pot washing sinks, weighing/grinding rooms, and storerooms. As these areas are for the use of all users, each user is responsible for cleaning up after themselves when they are done using the space. This includes but is not limited to:

  • sweeping floors
  • wiping down counter-tops
  • rinsing out sinks
  • disposing properly of trash and compost materials

Users should leave the space as clean as or cleaner than it was when they arrived.  PGC staff will empty trashcans daily and clear away clean pots in the pot-washing area, but the building janitors do not clean common-use spaces.

*Regarding trash cans in common use areas; as soil weighs a significant amount, do not fill trashcans beyond half full with soil. If cans are overfilled, it is difficult for PGC staff to get them emptied into the dumpsters without hurting themselves. Please be courteous and think of those who have to clean up after you!

Users utilizing any of the PGC storage areas (cold-wet storage, non-toxic storage, and room-temperature storage) must clearly label their materials with their name, phone number and/or email, and date placed in storage. PGC staff will clean out storerooms periodically, and any materials that are unlabeled, undated, or more than two years old will be disposed of immediately. PGC storerooms are NOT meant to be permanent storage.

Soil Potting Area

The PGC provides three basic potting mixes for use by all PGC users:

  • Sunshine Mix #1: commercial mix of sphagnum peatmoss and perlite
  • MSU Mix: in-house mix of equal parts local topsoil, washed concrete sand, and sphagnum peatmoss; pasteurized for 90 minutes at 160°F
  • 50/50 Mix: in-house mix of equal parts Sunshine Mix and MSU Mix

PGC staff mix and handle these products in-house. MSU Mix also requires pasteurization due to the incorporation of bulk local materials. Because of this, producing any one of these mixes takes time. If you know that you will be needing a large amount of soil for a project, please give the PGC manager at least one week’s advance notice so that staff can schedule accordingly.

The PGC also provides an assortment of pots and flats for greenhouse users. Flats can be found on the shelves in the pot-washing area, and pots are located in two storerooms off of the soil prep area. Pots and potting mixes are for greenhouse/growth room use ONLY – they are NOT to be taken outside the PGC for any reason. If materials are removed from the PGC, the user will be invoiced for the price of those materials. 

Users wanting custom pots or soil materials need to contact the PGC Manager. For custom soil mixes, please provide at least one week’s advance notice.

Researchers are responsible for filling plant growth containers with soil, planting, and placing their materials into their assigned space.

Potting will be done in designated potting areas. Leftover and spilled soil will be swept up and disposed of in trash receptacles, never returned to the soil bins or soil carts, and never washed down the greenhouse drains. Soil preparation and potting areas will be cleaned immediately after each use. Pasteurized soil must not be contaminated by the addition of non-pasteurized soil, floor sweepings, nor by dirty implements.

Plant and Soil Analysis Area

Facilities for analysis of PGC plant materials and soil (growing media) are provided in the PGC. These include grinders, balances, and work surfaces. These are shared facilities; authorization and time for their use must be arranged for with the PGC Manager. No one is allowed to use these facilities and equipment until properly trained in their operation. Other specialized research equipment (leaf area meters, pH meters, conductivity bridges, etc.) may be brought in and used on a day-to-day basis. Do not leave research equipment unattended or stored in this area.

Plant material will be analyzed in the plant area and soil will be analyzed in the soil area. That is, soil will not be ground in the plant grinders nor will it be dried in the plant drying area, the same holds true for plant material. Keep all equipment and work surfaces clean. Contamination of other experiments must be avoided.

Only plant material and soils from PGC research may be analyzed in this area.

Use of Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Materials

All state and federal guidelines regarding hazardous and radioactive materials will be followed. These materials will be used in a manner to insure the safety of others and such that they will have no influence on other research. These materials may be stored only in the area specified for toxic chemical storage. These storage areas are under the control of the PGC Manager.

Herbicide Application Room

It is expected that the majority use of this facility will be by faculty with primary research responsibilities in the weed science discipline. However, other faculty with need of such facilities may request its use. Specific use policies for activities in this room will be developed by the PGC management committee in consultation with the Weed Science Faculty. These policies are not to contradict nor lead to violations of other PGC policies.

The immediate administrator for this area will be the head of the LRES Department. Authorization and time for its use will be arranged through this administrator.

Materials removed from this room are to be in closed containers and handled with care to avoid any influence on other research.

Potato Improvement Laboratories

Policies for activities within these rooms will be determined by the PGC management committee in consultation with the designated Potato Lab representative. These policies are not to contradict or lead to violations of other PGC policies.

Materials removed from these labs are to be handled with care to avoid any influence on other research.

Cold-Wet Storage

Space will be allocated for a limited time for experiments needing to maintain plants or to provide cool (>0 C) treatments for experiments. Requests for space will utilize standard PGC use proposal format. As the environment will favor growth and survival of certain pathogens, cleanliness will be strictly enforced. Pathogens will not be intentionally introduced into the general room environment.

Storage Cages and Lockers

Only supplies and equipment used in direct support of ongoing PGC research may be stored in these facilities. Cages and lockers must be vacated, cleaned and keys returned to the PGC Manager at the termination of research activity. If the PGC staff is required to empty and clean these facilities, a $50 cleaning fee will be charged.

Toxic Chemical Storage Room

Only chemicals being used in direct support of ongoing PGC research may be stored in this room. All pesticides, radioactive isotopes, carcinogens, volatile and flammable chemicals that qualify for PGC storage must be stored in this room. All containers must be sealed and labeled for content and ownership. Chemicals are not to be stored in lockers and cages.

Non-Toxic Chemical Room

Only chemicals that do not pose a hazard under normal and proper use and that are being used in direct support of ongoing PGC research may be stored in this room. All containers must be sealed and labeled for content and ownership. Chemicals are not to be stored in lockers and cages.

Seed Storage

Store only seed materials in this room which will be used in the PGC. Each container of seed should be identified by name and date stored. Seed going into storage must be free of insects. Seed must be at a safe moisture content for storage (12-13%). Project leaders are responsible for keeping this room clean. Any spilled seed must be cleaned up immediately.

Application Room

No pesticides will be applied in this room. The project leader is responsible for operating the application equipment and clean-up of the room and equipment. Plant or seed materials must not be moved to growth facilities until they are completely dry.

Services Provided by PGC Staff

Monitor user compliance to PGC policies and report discrepancies to the PGC management committee and Dean of the College of Agriculture.

Insect and disease control coordination.

Notify project leaders prior to space assignment termination.

Train faculty in proper use of PGC facilities.

Monitor condition of facilities and equipment and arrange for repair when necessary.

Procure, prepare and pasteurize plant growth media, soil, and sand.

Daily clean-up of areas not cared for by the physical plant custodians. This does not include clean-up identified as the responsibility of researchers elsewhere in the PGC policies.

Maintain inventory of current projects.

Set all environmental controls.

Maintain accurate records of all use assignments, chemical treatments of space and other information pertinent to the management of the PGC.

Pest Control

PGC staff will handle all pesticide treatments and applications. However, greenhouse users are responsible for knowing what pests are common in greenhouses and monitoring plants for pest and disease issues on a regular basis; PGC staff do not have time to monitor every greenhouse. Common PGC pests/diseases include but are not limited to:

  • Aphids
  • Western Flower Thrips
  • Two-spotted Spider Mites
  • Wheat Curl Mite
  • Powdery Mildew

For more information on greenhouse pests and diseases, talk to the PGC Manager.

If you do begin to notice a pest or disease problem in your space, report it to PGC staff immediately and work out a treatment plan. DO NOT wait until the pest population is overwhelming; by this point it will be extremely difficult to control the problem. Pesticide treatments are most effective when pest numbers or disease levels are low. Be proactive!

Key Assignment

Keys issued will be for specific space assigned and only for the duration of the space assignment. All key assignments must be approved and monitored by the PGC Manager. Keys will be issued by the Office of Facilities Services. User fees will continue until keys are returned and a copy of the key receipt is given to the PGC manager. Users are responsible for costs of re-keying necessitated by their failure to return keys. Users may also access the building with their CatCard.

Key assignments and CatCard access will only be approved if users are up-to-date on their mandatory yearly Worker Protection Standards training. Contact the PGC Manager to schedule a training. 

Keys to non-assigned areas will not be distributed. Access will be through the PGC Manager by previous arrangement.


Users of teaching facilities are expected to follow the General PGC Operating Rules found previously in this document.

Teaching Greenhouse (179 L & M)

Space assignments will be made by the Assistant Dean of the College of Agriculture in response to specific requests from the faculty. Preference will be giving to individuals utilizing living plant material in their classes, regardless of whether the courses are taught in the PGC. Individual problems, and special projects for graduate and undergraduate students will be considered on a regular and "if space is available" basis.

Faculty wishing to use greenhouse space must submit a proposal to request and justify use of the space six weeks prior to intended start date. Forms are available from the PGC office or the Dean of Agriculture's office.

Student Lounge/Study Area

This area is considered open, non-assigned, multiple use space. However, on occasion, special activities may be scheduled in this area that would take priority over general student use. For example, discussion groups associated with classes taught in the PGC, receptions for campus guests and dignitaries, etc. may wish to use this space. Special use requests should be submitted to the Assistant Dean at least one week in advance of the planned activity.