Category Archives: water

Water on app New app to reduce water use for Canada’s ornamental plant sector

Jared Stoochnoff

By Lisa McLean

Guelph – It takes a lot of work – and a lot of water — to grow healthy trees and shrubs for Canada’s ornamental plant sector. The industry, which boasts approximately 3,500 nurseries across Canada, uses an estimated 190 million cubic metres of water every year.

But new research suggests this is two to three times more water than healthy trees need. And soon a new tool will be available to help nursery managers determine when to turn on –and turn off – the hose.

Jared Stoochnoff, a University of Guelph graduate student in the School of Environmental Sciences Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, is pioneering a new irrigation management strategy designed to reduce water consumption and mitigate the environmental impact of ornamental nursery operations.

“Because many nursery irrigation managers lack reliable ways to quantitatively predict a plant’s actual water requirements, they tend to err on the side of caution and overwater,” Stoochnoff says. “This results in unnecessarily high water and fertilizer run-off that negatively impacts local watersheds.” Continue reading

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

Feeding the fresh shrimp market from an Ontario hog barn

By Jane Robinson for AgInnovation Ontario

Campbellford – There’s no manual for farming shrimp in Ontario. No best practices or specialists to consult. But that didn’t deter the Cocchio family from taking the plunge into raising the delicate crustaceans in a former pig barn.

When the market fell out of pig farming about 10 years ago, Paul and Tracy Cocchio found themselves with three relatively new, empty barns on their Campbellford, Ontario farm.

A casual internet search for alternate uses for barns turned up shrimp farming. It peaked their interest enough to travel to the U.S. to visit a few shrimp farmers, and Paul took an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) workshop on trout farming.

As the Cocchios pondered their options, they factored in the untapped market opportunities for Ontario-grown shrimp.

“Shrimp is the number one imported seafood in North America, and we knew that nearly every restaurant between Toronto and Ottawa has shrimp on the menu,” said Brad Cocchio, who runs the operation with his wife Jordan, and his parents Paul and Tracy. 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

Researcher coaxes biomaterial out of its shell

(L to R) Brooke Marion, Dr. Chris Murray and Kayla Snyder used chitosan and crumb rubber to make pavement - web

(L to R) Brooke Marion, Dr. Chris Murray and Kayla Snyder

By Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Thunder Bay – There’s a naturally-occurring material found in discarded shells from crab and shrimp that offers properties with promising industrial uses.

Now, a researcher at Lakehead University is studying the material, and exploring potential for a broad range of applications ranging from wastewater treatment to better pavement.

Dr. Chris Murray studies the properties of chitosan – a naturally occurring long sugar molecule that is found in nearly all invertebrates.

“Chitosan plays a role in many animals that have exoskeletons,” says Murray. “It can be really tough and it provides a lot of physical strength for organisms.” Continue reading