Category Archives: environment

Do-it-yourself blueberries coming to a garden centre near you

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland – Ontarians will soon be able to easily grow blueberries on their own balconies or patios.

That’s thanks to an agricultural innovation made possible by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance.

Demand for more edible potted plants combined with heightened consumer interest in food production led researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) to work on new technology to allow consumers to more easily grow plants in containers.

Dr. Youbin Zheng and his team have developed a new organic growing material – known in the plant-growing world as substrate – that is specifically suited to growing plants like blueberries or other small fruits in containers instead of in gardens. Continue reading

Ontario technology makes single serve coffee more environmentally friendly

mike-tiessen-left-and-atul-bali-right-webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Leamington – A unique partnership involving a local biopolymer compounding company, technology from the University of Guelph and a food packaging company could make single serve coffee pod garbage a thing of the past.

Competitive Green Technologies of Leamington is working with the world’s leading single serve coffee brand owners on a recyclable and compostable version of the single serve coffee pod.

Its key structural components are made from bio-composites using biomass like coffee chaff, a waste stream of the coffee industry. Other biomass such as corn fiber, bio-carbon and miscanthus are also used, ensuring added markets for agriculture. Continue reading

Bubble-based aeration for more sustainable aquaculture

ltor-eric-chadwick-shaker-bukhari-wael-ahmed-ug-school-of-engineering-web

left to right: Undergraduate student Eric Chadwick, graduate student Shaker Bukhari and Prof. Wael Ahmed at the University of Guelph School of Engineering

By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – A new pump that uses air to circulate water is being developed at the University of Guelph, and it could make some favorable waves in the aquaculture industry.

Known as the Airlift Pump, the device is intended to replace costly and energy-hungry circulation machinery at both inland and open-water fish farms. It’s versatile, energy efficient, and even has some unintended and rather positive side effects on water quality.

According to principal researcher Wael Ahmed, associate professor at Guelph’s School of Engineering, the Airlift Pump is an aeration system using a specially designed dual air injector, and runs using the physics of buoyancy. Continue reading

New propagation trays improve tree health and growth

darby-mcgrath-webBy Kelly Daynard for AgInnovation Ontario

Vineland – The differences between two young oak trees in a greenhouse at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) are immediately noticeable. Not only is one twice the size of the other, but its root base is much thicker.

Both trees were planted into the same growing medium on the same day last April. The difference is that the smaller one was grown in a traditional black plastic plug tray, common in the nursery industry, while the larger one was grown in a revolutionary new propagation tray designed by Vineland.

Dr. Darby McGrath is a nursery and landscape research scientist who has been at Vineland since 2013. A lot of her work in the past has focused on urban tree projects – with a special interest in growing trees that will survive and thrive along Canadian highways or urban boulevards.

“Those are challenging plantings,” McGrath explained. “It’s the opposite of what a tree would want.” Continue reading

What’s in healthy soil?

New research looks at how soil health changes over time

graduate-student-erin-wepruk-and-dr-amanda-diochon-webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Thunder Bay – Do the best yields come from the healthiest soil? Not necessarily. But new research suggests farm management practices can impact soil health – and improve a crop’s chance of thriving when times get tough.

Dr. Amanda Diochon, a professor in the Department of Geology at Lakehead University, is part of a multi-partner research study that aims to develop an improved soil health test for Ontario.

The project focuses on how different management practices impact soil health from four Ontario sites – in Ottawa, Delhi, Elora and Ridgetown. For Diochon’s part, she’s tracking how components of organic matter change over time. Continue reading