With dark, short days in winter months, growing in Canada isn’t easy – even in controlled environments like greenhouses. To keep providing markets with high-quality produce, supplemental lighting is top of mind for many greenhouse vegetable producers.
March 16, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – With the Ontario government’s cap and trade program now in effect, many greenhouse growers in the province are quickly discovering the high cost of fighting climate change.
To some, that cost appears unsustainably high.
March April 2017 – Spring is a time of hope and renewed energy with longer days of sunshine and warmer weather. It is also a great time to reflect on how energy costs in the past months have impacted your bottom line, and to work with your team to make your greenhouse more cost-effective for the year to come.
November 2016 – Greenhouses provide vegetable and flower growers with the ability to control all the inputs needed to yield healthy, plentiful crops. In a greenhouse, growers can tailor the amount of light, CO2, moisture, heat and cold, and other variables in order to improve both the quality and quantity of their production.
June 23, 2015, Windsor — Greenhouse operators in the Windsor-Essex Region will reduce their electricity costs and expand their production by taking advantage of electricity programs offered by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
April 26, 2015, Guelph, Ont. – The provincial budget focused on much needed investment in transportation infrastructure but failed to support Ontario farmers with rising on-farm energy costs.
March 15, 2015, Toronto – Red Sun Farms is again on the rise.
Dec. 5, 2014, Guelph, Ont. — One of the biggest costs of running a farm is energy. Ontario farmers are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of energy required to operate their farm businesses. Energy costs are making Ontario farms less competitive domestically and in the global market.
June 27, 2014, Surrey, B.C. — At the time of this writing, agricultural practitioners and land developers, together with oil and natural gas pipeline proponents and residents of B.C. are debating and defending (or not defending, as the case may be) the merits of “Bill 24 – 2014, Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act.”
Jan. 1, 2014, Toronto — The Ontario government gave its greenhouse industry an early Christmas present. The gift was neatly wrapped up in the government’s Long Term Energy Plan, released Dec. 2.
Winners have been announced in the Big Green Greenhouse Design Competition, which challenged people from around the world to create a 3,000 square foot greenhouse meeting the Living Building Challenge guidelines.
Natural gas pricing is always subject to the elements. At this time of year in particular, traders and market participants are considering the Atlantic hurricane season a serious risk factor for supply – and prices.  
As a greenhouse grower or manager, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities and allow the little items to get missed.
May 10, 2013 – Throughout the summer months of 2012, the Thanet Earth Discovery Greenhouse at Hadlow College was buzzing with activity. Second year Commercial Horticulture degree student, Tom Pilcher, was in charge of more than 500 tomato plants in a dedicated greenhouse, conducting variety trials on behalf of protected salads specialist, Thanet Earth Marketing Ltd.

This paid fellowship position came to an end along with the tomato season, but such was the commercial benefit for Thanet Earth and the teaching and experiential benefit for Hadlow College that both parties have pledged to continue their support. The Discovery Fellowship will continue with a second year of variety trials in 2013.    
At a very well-attended event at Hadlow College, Tom handed the reins over to this year’s selected Horticulture student, Richard Killian.
Richard will spend time this month learning the detail of large- scale tomato growing and the specific method of speciality tomato production used by Gert van Straalen at Kaaij UK – the tomato growing partner at Thanet Earth. Once he’s confident in the technology used, the irrigation requirements and the common threats to plants from pest and disease then he’ll take delivery and control of the young plants at Hadlow College.

Thanet Earth Marketing needs to demonstrate an active programme of variety development for its retail customers. Each
stocks a unique range to suit customer demand, and a great supplier is one that helps identify and develop the range. Thanet Earth Marketing works closely with seed companies and plant breeders to offer a trials environment for potential new opportunities.

Depending on the performance of these new varieties in the Discovery Greenhouse at Hadlow, selected plants will move on to a trial within a Thanet Earth greenhouse. From here they’ll be finally assessed and offered to retailers before either moving into full commercial production or being consigned to the ‘not this time’ pile.

The Discovery Fellowship is providing a real solution to issues faced both by Thanet Earth and by Hadlow College. Riding on the wave of demand for UK-grown crops, and in the context of global concern over food security and the pressure of feeding a fast- increasing population, the horticulture industry in the UK has enormous potential to expand. As Robert James, technical manager at Thanet Earth explains: “We need bright young people to see Horticulture as a career of choice, and we need to provide education and training that’s relevant. Our agricultural and horticultural colleges must produce graduates who are ready to jump into a career already equipped with the right knowledge for the job.”

This partnership provides unparalleled access for students to commercial growing systems and training, but provides a supporting framework through the Hadlow College lecturers and facilities. It’s a ‘safe’ learning environment, working to real issues and challenges. Richard Killian is very much looking forward to this new opportunity: “Getting selected for this Fellowship is a unique opportunity for me. I’ve got a complicated, fast- moving schedule over the next couple of months, and loads to learn. I’m looking forward to getting the Discovery Greenhouse in production again, and to working alongside the people at Thanet Earth and their retail customers.”
April 18, 2013, Winnipeg – Controlled Environments Ltd. (Conviron) has acquired Argus Control Systems Ltd. (Argus) of White Rock, British Columbia. The acquisition brings together Conviron – a world leader in controlled environments for agricultural research – with Argus – a North American leader in advanced automated control systems for greenhouses and other horticultural applications. The integration will provide researchers and growers with more flexibility and increasingly powerful tools, and in so doing drive growth for both organizations in the plant science and biotechnology sectors.
”Argus is well-known in North America for its innovative and robust control systems,” said Conviron president and CEO Steve Kroft. “With the Argus platform, we have extended our capability to offer sophisticated pre-engineered and customized control solutions that meet the increasingly demanding research applications and facility management requirements of our clients.” MANY YEARS OF WORKING TOGETHER For decades, Conviron plant growth chambers and rooms have been chosen by many of the same leading agricultural research centres that have used Argus controls for their research greenhouses. “With our new relationship, we will be able to supply integrated control systems that will enable clients to manage their entire facility – from tissue culture and plant growth chambers to greenhouses and building systems – all on a single platform,” said Bill Mukanik, vice-president of client services at Conviron. Not only does the acquisition of Argus provide Conviron with new technology for its controlled environments, it also provides the Winnipeg-based company with access to the commercial horticulture industry where the opportunity for growth is significant. The deal also enhances diversification opportunities into water treatment, aquaculture and energy data management where the Argus platform has already demonstrated its value to clients. EXPANDED MARKET OPPORTUNITIES Under the new ownership structure, Argus will leverage Conviron’s sales and distribution network to extend its access to new clients, especially in international markets where Conviron has been long established. In addition, both organizations will have the capacity to continue aggressive, coordinated product development programs that respond to specific client needs and anticipate market requirements. Argus will function as an independent business unit maintaining its distinct brand and continuing operations at its current location. ENSURING A SMOOTH TRANSITION Alec and Marlene Mackenzie, founders of Argus, will continue in advisory roles to ensure a smooth transition for Argus employees and clients. “We’ve known Conviron for many years and we recognized long ago a similar passion and dedication to serving our clients,” said Mackenzie. “Our business values are similar and our clients overlap. Both Argus and Conviron clients will benefit from the synergies of this deal.”
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