Greenhouse Canada

Vineland robotics gets federal boost

April 27, 2012  By Dave Harrison

April 27, 2012, Vineland Station, Ont. – Ottawa is investing $2.5
million in the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC) to support
the development of innovative horticultural technologies.

April 27, 2012, Vineland Station, Ont. – Ottawa is investing $2.5 million in the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC) to support the development of innovative horticultural technologies.

MP Rob Nicholson, (Niagara Falls), minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, made the announcement on behalf of the Gary Goodyear, minister of state for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). He was accompanied by MP Dean Allison (Niagara West-Glanbrook).
"Our government's top priority remains creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians," said Nicholson. "This investment will help Canada's horticulture industry become more competitive, and open new markets to businesses participating in this project."
Allison added that work at the VRIC in developing innovative technologies will increase profitability for growers. "This investment supports the agricultural sector, and horticulture in particular, which is an important driver of Canada's economic growth."
This contribution is provided through FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative. Vineland Research and Innovation Centre will work with local businesses to develop and commercialize two promising horticultural innovations:


• A robotic automation system for use in greenhouses and nurseries.

• A frost protection system for use in vineyards, orchards and fields.

In addition to supporting economic growth and diversification in the region, this investment will help horticultural operators in Canada and abroad reduce the costs associated with labour and spoilage.
"With investment from FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative," said said Jim Brandle, CEO, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, "Vineland has brought together partners in technology and automation from non-agricultural sectors to address labour efficiency issues, one of horticulture's largest challenges. This is innovation working at its best – new partners and proven ideas to address some of the unique planting and harvesting challenges that are common to our industry,"
The investment announced today supports the federal government's science, technology and innovation agenda, which is focused on increasing the country's productivity, creating jobs, and growing the economy.
Created in 2009, FedDev Ontario supports the southern Ontario economy by building on the region's strengths and creating opportunities for jobs and economic growth.
FedDev Ontario is providing Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) with a non-repayable contribution of up to $2,511,035 through its Prosperity Initiative. This investment will allow Vineland to work collaboratively with a number of horticultural and local technology companies to help bring two innovative technologies to market. Vineland is also working with Niagara College to place students on these projects.
Adapting robotics and automation to horticultural use – In partnership with AEMK Systems, Anoven, Cambridge Metal Products, John G. Wilson Machine Ltd., and Niagara College, Vineland will be adapting existing robotic technologies for use in greenhouses and nurseries to automate the packaging of potted flowers, the planting of bulbs and seedlings, as well as the harvesting of mushrooms.
Other local businesses have committed resources to this project, such as Sunrise Greenhouses, Monaghan Mushrooms and Pioneer Flower Farms.
This project investment will allow Vineland to increase its expertise in automation and engineering, which it will be able to offer other industry partners in the future. In addition, this technology will help the local horticultural industry improve its productivity and cost competitiveness, while the project partners will benefit from new sales opportunities.
Extending frost protection technology to new horticulture uses – Tempwave technology is a system that prevents frost damage by using radio frequency waves to maintain a specific temperature in crops and plants without heating the surrounding air. Vineland plans to work with its designer, Raytheon, to optimize the technology for use on a wide range of tender fruits, including grapes, peaches and apricots, as well as diverse terrains.


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