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Greening up Ontario highways


September 15, 2009
By Dave Harrison


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NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Greening up Ontario highways
Ontario highways will soon look greener
thanks to research conducted at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
(VRIC) in partnership with Landscape Ontario, local nurseries and horticultural
suppliers.



Sept. 15, 2009, Vineland, Ont. — Ontario highways will soon look greener
thanks to research conducted at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
(VRIC) in partnership with Landscape Ontario, local nurseries and horticultural
suppliers.

High plant mortalities and locally available tree stock have always
been a challenge for highway tree plantings. Working with industry stakeholders
and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the VRIC is optimizing the planting process for improved local production and
long-term greening success.

Dr. Hannah Mathers, Senior Research Fellow at Vineland Research and
Innovation Centre and Associate Professor, Ohio State University, is currently
developing appropriate species selection and growing conditions that will
encourage tree survivability in high stress environments. “With the use of
retractable roof greenhouse technology, Ontario can capture a portion of the
multimillion dollar small-tree market, which traditionally we have imported.
This will foster a stronger presence of local production and drastically reduce
the carbon footprint produced by the shipping process,” said Dr. Mathers.

Highway greening is an important factor in reducing carbon dioxide – a
byproduct of vehicle emissions and a catalyst of climate change.

“Finding ways to increase tree survival along our highways will greatly
improve air quality and decrease pollution levels by trapping carbon dioxide,”
said Landscape Ontario executive director Tony DiGiovanni. “It is particularly
difficult to sustain any long-term greening program along Ontario highways due
to extreme climate conditions necessitating frequent salt use during winters
and frequent dry spells throughout summer.”

This project is an excellent example of Vineland’s partnership approach
to research and innovation, said VRIC executive director Dr. Jim Brandle.
“Working with our industry partners, Vineland looks for solutions to
horticultural challenges, in this case within the Ontario nursery sector.”

At Vineland, Dr. Mathers and her team currently have more than eight
species of trees in the retractable roof greenhouses and will have their first
crop planted along Ontario highways by the spring of 2010.

 

ABOUT LANDSCAPE ONTARIO

Established in 1973, Landscape Ontario has become an invaluable
association within the Ontario horticulture industry. Comprising over 2,000
members of horticulture professionals, Landscape Ontario both encourages and
supports projects and education initiatives. Through sector groups, Landscape
Ontario facilitates a network of support addressing industry needs for its
members and communities.

 

ABOUT VINELAND RESEARCH AND INNOVATION CENTRE

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is an independent, not-for-profit
organization established as a world-class centre for horticultural science and
innovation. In its capacity to enable and foster relationships with industry,
academia and government, Vineland works to deliver premium horticultural
products and production innovations. Vineland brings a global perspective to
the horticulture industry and offers a broad range of lasting benefits both
locally and internationally. Vineland’s research priorities align with industry
needs and its outcomes focus on the growth of the entire horticulture industry.


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