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Ontario to make it easier to dispose of nutrient feedwater

December 17, 2014  By OMAFRA

Dec. 17, 2014, Toronto — Ontario is making it easier for greenhouse growers to comply with regulation 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.

It 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.

Supporting the province’s agri-food industry is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

 “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. “Our government is committed to improving and streamlining regulations, enabling increased productivity and growth across the entire agri-food value chain.”

Many greenhouse operators use nutrient solutions to grow their produce. After reusing 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.”

Ontario’s greenhouse sector is growing and contributes over $1.5 billion in farm gate sales to the province’s economy.
The purpose of the Nutrient Management Act is to manage materials containing nutrients in environmentally friendly ways while supporting agricultural operations and rural development.

Click here for more on the new regulations.

For more information on the regulation please visit OMAFRA’s web site.


As of January 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.

Many greenhouse operations use circulation systems to deliver water and fertilizer as a nutrient solution to greenhouse crops that are grown without the use of soil.

After reusing multiple times, the excess solution may no longer be optimal for growing greenhouse crops, but can still have nutrient value suitable for other agricultural crops and can be recycled on agricultural lands to support plant growth.

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.


The regulation protects surface water, groundwater and soil by setting out a framework for managing, storing and land applying GNF. This framework requires:

• All participating greenhouse operations to register.

• The development of management strategies for adequate and safe storage where needed.

• Approval of plans for land application.

• Tracking of the proper transportation of greenhouse nutrient feedwater to agricultural operations.

• Sampling of greenhouse nutrient feedwater and soil.

• Training for famers, transporters and crop advisers who work with greenhouse nutrient feedwater.

The regulation supports Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, 2012, to reduce nutrient inputs to the environment.

It will be complemented by an approval exemption for sewage works managing GNF under the Ontario Water Resources Act and consequential amendments to the general waste management regulation under the Environmental Protection Act.


With this new addition, greenhouse growers have another tool they can use to comply with environmental standards. All options available to greenhouse operations under the Nutrient Management Act (NMA) or Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) / Environmental Protection Act (EPA) frameworks now include:

• Reuse of nutrient feedwater in a greenhouse.

• Application on land under NMA.

• Application on land under Environmental Compliance Approval.

• Treatment and discharge using a sewage works under Environmental Compliance Approval.

• Disposal off-site by approved waste hauler to an approved waste disposal site; and

• Discharge to sanitary sewer.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is responsible for enforcing compliance with the Ontario Water Resources Act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Nutrient Management Act.

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