Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Research
From the Editor: August 2011


July 18, 2011
By Dave Harrison


Topics

Where would the Canadian greenhouse industry be without research and innovation? Sadly, with the potential of government cutbacks in funding to the
science sector, we may soon find out. In 2009, when the U.S. was
announcing a $10-billion increase in basic research funding, Ottawa was
proposing a cut of $148 million over three years to Canadian research
budgets. And that was a minority government.

Where would the Canadian greenhouse industry be without research and innovation?

Sadly, with the potential of government cutbacks in funding to the
science sector, we may soon find out. In 2009, when the U.S. was
announcing a $10-billion increase in basic research funding, Ottawa was
proposing a cut of $148 million over three years to Canadian research
budgets. And that was a minority government.

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The federal deficit needs to be trimmed, of that we’re certain. No
society can survive for long by continually borrowing from its
grandchildren and great-grandchildren. However, our fear is that science
and research will take a proportionally bigger hit than other
expenditures.

But let’s take a closer look at greenhouse research and innovation in Canada, and use
examples listed in our June 2011 edition that summarized our tour of the
Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre in Harrow, Ontario.

Projects highlighted within that issue included:

  • Leading edge research on bee vectoring of biological crop
    protection agents. (Bumblebees have long been busy pollinating vegetable
    crops; they’re just as adept at this new role.)
  • A water stress study to determine its effect on fruit quality,
    part of a larger study being led by AgCanada colleagues at Agassiz,
    British Columbia.
  • Research on optimal lighting strategies involving LEDs.
  • A new disease prevention process that detects problems before the plants arrive for transplanting.
  • Searching for new biocontrol solutions to suppress European corn borer.
  • Temperature integration strategies for cucumbers, similar to
    earlier work with tomatoes, to change the growth balance and shift
    plants into production earlier when prices are higher.
  • Improved energy efficiency for production of poinsettias and
    chrysanthemums, two major potted crops, either with temperature
    integration or improved rootzone heating strategies.

In that same issue, we also noted the Meritorious Services Award
presented to Dr. Nick Savidov of Alberta Agriculture, Food and
RuraDevelopment during last fall’s awards banquet hosted by the Alberta
Greenhouse Growers Association. His research into the development of
innovative growing media and with aquaponics systems have been well
received at the national and international levels.

Again, we ask the question: where would the industry be without the work
of greenhouse research specialists at the federal, provincial or
post-secondary levels?

Here’s a great example. Research at Harrow in the 1980s demonstrated
that tomato and cucumber yields can be equally good under
double-inflated polyethylene as under glass, and with a 30 per cent
energy savings over glass. As a result of those findings, a large
percentage of greenhouses constructed in Leamington are double poly,
resulting in construction savings of almost a billion dollars and
significantly reduced energy bills.

Let’s voice our support for research funding, and let politicians know
its value to the continued success of the industry. Our silence will
have serious consequences.


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