Canadian farmers stand to benefit from research focused on improving crop quality, productivity, and disease and insect resistance, to be done at a newly constructed greenhouse.
"By investing in research, we are investing in Canada's competitiveness and growth," said Ritz. "Construction of the greenhouse created local jobs, and the results of the research conducted in this new facility will bring long-term benefits to Canadian farmers, industry and the economy."
Official opening ceremony speakers included Dr. Karl Volkmar, director of operations at the centre; Dr. Siddika Mithani, assistant deputy minister – Science and Technology branch of AgCanada; and Crosby Devitt, manager of research and market development with Grain Farmers of Ontario.
The SCPFRC, part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) national network of research centres, conducts research on integrated pest management, bio-based products and processes, genomics and biotechnology, and soil and water quality. The new facility will triple the Centre's greenhouse capacity.
By the numbers:
• Total greenhouse area of 600 square metres.
• Total bench area (rolling benches) of 257 square metres.
• Height to the gutter of 6.4 metres (about 21 feet).
• Header house area of 560 square metres.
• 220 high pressure sodium lights.
The new facility includes a combination of large and small compartments, enabling researchers sharing similar environment needs to work within the same compartment.
The state-of-the-art environmental control system provides a wide range of temperature, lighting and humidity settings, as well as enabling archiving and tracking of conditions throughout the experiment.
ROLLING BENCHES TO OPTIMIZE SPACE
The rolling benches ensure optimal usage of space, along with convenient access.
Each compartment has automated irrigation and fertilizer systems.
The facility meets the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s rigorous bio-container standards for research involving Level Two plant pathogens, and for genetically modified organisms.
Compartments are under constant negative pressure in order to contain and exclude pests. Supply and exhaust air is filtered or screened in order to contain and exclude pests. Swipe cards must be use to access different bio-contained zones.
The greenhouse is segmented into three independent bio-containment zones, allowing incremental use of the facility for bio-containment.
STRENGTHENING CANADA'S POSITION IN NEW AND EXISTING MARKETS
"The Centre has a long tradition of working with producers and building strong relationships with industry. Research done here will continue to lead to new technologies and better agricultural practices for farmers," said Ritz. "It is a great example of how scientific advances can strengthen Canada's position in new and existing markets."
Work undertaken in the new greenhouse will help researchers identify fruit tree germplasm resistant to the plum pox virus, reduce the reliance of cereal grain crops on commercial nitrogen fertilizer, use protein-trafficking technologies to develop plant-based animal vaccines as an alternative to antibiotics, improve the nutritional quality of dry beans, and develop higher-yielding, higher-quality alfalfa cultivars for the dairy and cattle industry.
Collaborating in these efforts are the University of Guelph, Western University, the Ontario Bean Producers' Marketing Board, and the Grain Farmers of Ontario, among others.
SUPPORT OF FARM GROUPS
How important is this investment? Crosby Devitt, manager of Research and Market Development with the Grain Farmers of Ontario, summed up the feelings of farm organizations who work with the centre:
"Every year, Grain Farmers of Ontario invests approximately $1.6 million dollars into agricultural research. We strive to form partnerships with government and industry to leverage these dollars. Through partnerships, each year over $6 million dollars is provided to researchers dedicated to studies that help our farmers become more productive and sustainable.
"Over the last five years, Grain Farmers of Ontario has invested in several projects conducted at the Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre here in London.
"These studies include the evaluation of soybean cultivars for resistance to soybean viral diseases, and an innovative project on the use of nitrogen fixing bacteria in corn to reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers.
"We are currently pursuing increased funding for the study on nitrogen fixation in corn, and hope to continue our involvement in research conducted here in London.
"This new greenhouse complex will allow researchers to expand their contribution to scientific discovery and innovation. This will lead to improved competitiveness of our farmers in agricultural markets here in Canada and around the world.
"With the announcement of new research programs under Growing Forward 2, specifically the Science Clusters program and the Agricultural Innovation Program, we are looking to increase our collaboration with scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada."
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|The new greenhouses of the Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre in London, Ont.|
|Cutting the ribbon were Dr. Siddika Mithani of AgCanada, and Crosby Devitt of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.|
|A view of the service corridor.|
|Dr. Mark Gijzen was among tour leaders. He is a 20-year veteran of the centre.|
|Tours were held throughout the facilities.
|One of the air filtration units.|
| All vents are screened.
|Some of the first plants.