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Nurseries participate in highway greening


September 3, 2009
By Amanda Ryder

Sept. 3, 2009 – Ontario highways will soon look greener thanks to research conducted at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in partnership with Landscape Ontario, local nurseries and horticultural suppliers.

Ontario highways will soon look greener thanks to research conducted at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in partnership with Landscape Ontario, local nurseries and horticultural suppliers. Today's Open House introduced plans for a new environmental vision along Ontario highways.

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, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is optimizing the planting process for improved local production and long-term greening success.

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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. Hannah Mathers.

Highway greening is an important factor in reducing carbon dioxide – a by-product of vehicle emissions and a catalyst of climate change. "We are very pleased to be partnering with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre on this study. Finding ways to increase tree survival along our highways will greatly improve air quality and decrease pollution levels by trapping carbon dioxide. 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," said Tony DiGiovanni, Executive Director, Landscape Ontario.

"This project stands as an excellent example of Vineland's partnership approach to research and innovation," said Dr. Jim Brandle, CEO, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. "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 Spring 2010.


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