Category Archives: northern Ontario

Finding the right light to grow better plants – on Earth and in space

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph – It’s an unremarkable building from the outside, tucked away on a side street on the University of Guelph campus. What’s inside, though, is most remarkable – and may well be lighting the way for future human life in space, as well as better life here on earth.

Not only are researchers in the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility working on how to best grow food away from Earth, they’re also experimenting with using light to improve the production of medical marijuana and cancer-fighting tobacco plants, helping nurseries reduce water and fertilizer use on their trees and shrubs, and finding low cost solutions to growing more compact bedding plants.

PhD candidate Dave Hawley is using basil and strawberry plants in experiments designed to find the best LED light combination for use in small, low atmosphere growth chambers that will not only simulate but actually improve upon real sunlight – and resulting in better flavour and ultimately helping feed people on long space journeys. Continue reading

Horticultural research centre marks 10-year anniversary

Industry and consumer focused innovation drives Vineland success

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre building

By Lilian Schaer

Vineland – It’s been 10 years since a new horticultural research facility in Niagara Region was launched as the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).

Since then, Vineland has been turning heads across Canada and internationally with its needs-based innovations. The organization reflects the entire horticulture value chain from farmers to consumers, and they’re not afraid to take big steps to help the industry solve problems.

“We started by understanding what needed to be done and how we needed to work to make a difference, which is real results with real impact from acres in the field to shelf space in the store,” says Vineland’s CEO, Dr. Jim Brandle.

Asian eggplants at Vineland

Addressing the labour intensive nature of horticultural production was a need identified early on. Today, machines designed in Vineland’s robotics program and built in Ontario are coming into use in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, which Brandle says will go a long way in helping to keep growers competitive, as well as boost the local manufacturing and automation sector. Continue reading

Growing Forward 2 supports northern Ontario agriculture

This week’s story comes to us from the Agricultural Adaptation Council

By Lilian Schaer

Watch the video

New Liskeard – There’s a world of difference between farming in northern and southern Ontario. The climate, soils, and available infrastructure in the north mean farmers have different innovation and research needs than their more southern neighbours.

The Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities of northern Ontario farmers. Through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, AAC has secured cost-share funds for five northern-focused innovation projects headed by the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance (NOFIA).

“There is a major difference not only between northern Ontario and rest of the province, but also between the regions of northern Ontario, which is geographically huge,” explains NOFIA Administrator Steph Vanthof. “This is one of the reasons it is so important to maintain agricultural research and innovation for the north.” Continue reading

Northern communities to benefit from local-made fuel initiative

lew-christopher-web

Prof. Lew Christopher

By Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Thunder Bay – For remote Northern Ontario communities, getting fuel isn’t easy. Large quantities of petrodiesel are routinely flown long distances, at significant financial and environmental expense.

Now, a new partnership between researchers and community representatives offers a unique solution: make energy-efficient biodiesel in the community where it will be used.

The project is called the Sustainable Energy Community Initiative for Northern Ontario (SECINO) and is being led by Dr. Lew Christopher, who heads up the Biorefining Research Institute (BRI) at Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University. 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