Three energy-wise greenhouse operators win ‘2012 Premier’s Awards for Agri-food Innovation Excellence’
By Treena Hein
On August 29th, 2012, ten winners of the Premier’s Award for Agri-food Innovation Excellence were announced. Three relate to greenhouse production.
- Auvergne Farms Limited / Jakeman’s Maple Products, Beachville
- Forest Glen Herb Farm & Bed and Breakfast, Lambton Shores
- Glenwillow Farms, Strathroy
- Great Northern Hydroponics, Kingsville
- L.M. Bolle and Sons, Norwich
- Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Woodstock
- Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association, Woodstock
- Randy Lambrecht, Bothwell
- S. Eric Richter, London
- Stratus Hydroponics International Inc., Windsor
Randy Lambrecht – Bothwell
Randy Lambrecht is a greenhouse producer who knows that one of the most important jobs in his operation is washing and disinfecting trays. But soaking and scrubbing trays manually took time away from other essential work. He built an automated chain-and-belt-driven tray washer that cuts the time from days to hours. The tray washer can accommodate varying tray styles and sizes, and can wash up to 500 flats an hour, thoroughly scrubbing the sides and tops of trays, which are usually the dirtiest areas. The trays are then dunked in a cleaning tank of disinfectant and steamed before their next use. This innovation is cost effective and a great time saver for small greenhouse producers.
Great Northern Hydroponics – Kingsville
Nothing beats the taste of a fresh juicy tomato. Now, Great Northern Hydroponics delivers the fresh taste of home-grown tomatoes year-round. The company expanded its 50 acre facility by building a new 14 acre tomato greenhouse, the first of its kind to use high density light fixtures in Ontario. These fixtures create photosynthetic energy to sustain production. The combination of innovative greenhouse and light design is yielding improved production, efficiency, and high quality tomatoes. As a result, more Ontarians can enjoy tomatoes that are grown here at home 12 months of the year.
Stratus Hydroponics International Inc. – Windsor
Greenhouse growers hope to see their plants reach new heights with an innovation called the “Grow Gutter.” The patented system, developed by Stratus Hydroponics International Inc., controls plant root zone temperatures by directing water back and forth along a heating and cooling tray. The Grow Gutter can rest on top of existing architecture in any type of hydroponic production, from floriculture to fruit and vegetable operations. Trials have shown that, by providing additional heat to the root zone area, the system can help advance plant production and growth by as much as one and a half weeks. Better plant health and reduced disease and energy use are all at the root of this innovation.
· A total of 50 regional awards are being handed out across Ontario this summer. From these, five recipients will be chosen and awarded with a Premier’s Award, a Minister’s Awards and three Leaders in Innovation Awards at the Premier’s Summit on Agri-Food in October.
· Since 2007, 285 awards under the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence program have recognized innovations from producers, processors and agri-food organizations.
· Ontario’s agri-food sector is one of the province’s leading industries, contributing more than $33 billion to the economy every year.
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