Ontario’s 3Rs for Feedwater

Now Easier to Dispose of Excess Nutrient Solutions
March 04, 2015
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Local farmers will be able to access a new source of inexpensive nutrients.
Local farmers will be able to access a new source of inexpensive nutrients.
Ontario is making it easier for greenhouse growers to comply with regulations regarding the disposal of greenhouse nutrient feedwater by streamlining environmental compliance that will benefit farmers and enhance protection of the environment.
The new Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation will help greenhouse growers better comply with environmental standards by reducing the costs and uncertainty of approvals. It will promote the reuse, and facilitate the recycling of, greenhouse nutrient feedwater while providing farmers with a new source of nutrients to fertilize their crops. This change was raised by the Open For Business Forum, a regular roundtable of agri-food experts convened to streamline regulations and promote a better business climate.

The changes will benefit local farmers by providing a new source of inexpensive nutrients that can reduce the need for expensive commercial fertilizers, and supplemental irrigation water that can replace water drawn from lakes, rivers and wells.

“Through the Open For Business Forum, we worked collaboratively with greenhouse growers and farmers to develop this regulation and ensure it meets their needs,” said Jeff Leal, minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

After reusing nutrient solutions multiple times, operators sometimes must dispose of excess solution that can still contain nutrient value. This solution is referred to as “greenhouse nutrient feedwater,” or GNF.

“Greenhouse vegetable growers need to have the option of managing nutrients that are excess to their greenhouse operation as field crop inputs rather than waste to be disposed of, said Don Taylor, chairman, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. “By providing that option, this new regulation protects the environment while helping the sector to remain viable in a very competitive global trade setting.”

The new regulation helps greenhouse growers meet their legal obligation to safely dispose of GNF.

 “We fully support the collaborative approach taken by the Ontario government with this regulation,” said Dean Shoemaker, executive director, Flowers Canada (Ontario) Inc. “The incorporation of sector perspective on regulations as they are in their initial stages of development is critical to successful implementation.”

As of Jan. 1, 2015, the new Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation will allow the land application of greenhouse nutrient feedwater (GNF) under the Nutrient Management Act. The regulation provides eligible greenhouse growers with a new option to manage GNF in a way that enhances the protection of the natural environment and supports the sector’s sustainability through a streamlined approval process.

The new regulation supports the greenhouse sector’s efforts towards improving compliance by adding to the toolbox of options available to properly manage this greenhouse material:
  • Reduce excess nutrient solution by applying best management practices within the greenhouse.
  • Reuse nutrient solution by optimizing recirculation within the greenhouse.
  • Recycle nutrient solution that cannot be recirculated by applying to crops grown on agricultural lands.
  • If necessary, responsible disposal under the Ontario Water Resources Act, or the GNF benefits local farmers by providing a new source of inexpensive nutrients that can reduce the need for expensive commercial fertilizers and by providing supplemental irrigation water that can replace water drawn from lakes, rivers and wells.

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