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.”
British Columbia's Ministry of Agriculture has published a discussion paper to guide local governments in regulating combined heat and power (CHP) generation at greenhouses in the province's Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
Last week the federal government along with the province announced the start of Growing Forward 2, a multi-million dollar, five-year agreement to help Canada’s agri-food industry grow profits, expand its markets and manage risk.
LumiGrow’s Cash for Clunkers program offers commercial growers a $150 rebate for each high intensity discharge greenhouse light fixture they replace with one of the company’s LED luminaires.
The Ontario government is once again tabling legislation to strengthen and improve the agri-food industry in the province. New legislation in the form of Bill 130 (coined the Local Food Act) will raise awareness about local food and bring increased sales to growers across the province.
Assiniboine Community College's sustainable greenhouse will officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 28, almost a year after the sod-turning ceremony that launched the project.
Canadian natural gas prices hit a four-month high amid forecasts of cooler weather across North America and declining supplies in Canada.
Feb. 25, 2013, Ottawa — Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is now accepting applications for funding from SD Tech Fund to support clean tech entrepreneurs.
In the last 30 years, the greenhouse industry has experienced significant changes. New technologies have not only brought an increase in production levels, but have also allowed more competitors to enter the industry, leading to smaller margins.
If you are one of the more than 7,000 Ontario Greenbelt farmers, a new program is being rolled out just for you. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) in conjunction with the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation are working together to promote innovative, economic farming practices that will support the environment.
The final deadline to apply for funding from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) is March 14.
Some greenhouse operators keen to cut their energy bills are finding the installation of double energy curtain systems to be a wise move.
Dirty electricity is a term we are hearing more often, in particular if you live in rural Ontario, Michigan or Wisconsin. Stray voltage from electrical lines and substations may have a direct impact on human, animal and possibly plant health in the rural community.
The Agricultural Adaptation Council is looking for short-term, innovative projects that fit the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAPP) project objectives.

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