Funding Opportunity: The Greenhouse Technology Network

This guest blog post was written by Dr. Rita Sterne, Project Manager with the Greenhouse Technology Network. Read on for important information about this funding opportunity.

Why do we need a Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN)?

Success for a greenhouse business comes from many things including balancing systems, constant vigilance, and the use of technologies across complex production activities.  From tools, equipment, and machines, to methods, systems, and techniques, new and improved technologies must help growers run  a profitable businesses in a world where there are increasing demands from society, environment, and economy. 

Technological advancements often develop in response to a challenge, but research and development is a costly undertaking for many small and medium sized businesses and some persistent challenges require research expertise that is hard to access.  This is where the Greenhouse Technology Network can help!

Robotic technology in a greenhouse.

What is the Greenhouse Technology Network?

The need for new and improved technologies is the driver behind the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), a consortium of three research-focused institutions. GTN members leverage their research expertise in greenhouse technologies with greenhouse and related technology businesses to help grow innovation in Ontario’s greenhouse industry.

Powered by funding from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, GTN members help businesses de-risk innovation activities and help new and improved technologies get to greenhouse growers faster where they will help business thrive and grow.

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Time to Prepare for Spring 2022

This post was jointly written by Dr. Chevonne Dayboll and Dr. Sarah Jandricic

It’s time to think about spring again! This post gathers some of the most important things to plan and prep for in the greenhouse before your spring production begins in earnest.

1. Make sure your inputs are ordered

We can’t emphasize this one enough. COVID-19 and container boat issues are still causing shipping delays that are affecting many industries including greenhouses. Make sure you order potting mixes, plastic trays and pots, fertilizers, and production inputs well ahead of when you will need them. If you are planning on doing greenhouse upgrades in between seasons make sure you confirm delivery and installation timelines with your contractors.  Many of them are facing delays too!

2. Now is the time for preventative maintenance

Heat loss from an older (left) and newer, more efficient boiler (right). (Photo credit: OMAFRA)

Now is a great time to schedule preventive maintenance for your boiler, irrigation and shading systems.  Make sure that all motors and alarms are working before you need to rely on them. No one wants to find out that their temperature alarm failed on a cold February morning! Ensure you are getting the pressure you expect all along your irrigation system.  If you rely on propane heaters for early spring production make sure they are venting properly. Damage from improper venting can present as stunted growth or leaf burn.

Take some time to inspect the greenhouse for wear-and-tear. Repair cracked poly and broken glass to keep heat from escaping. Make sure old torn energy curtains are replaced. A heat sensitive camera can help to identify areas of energy loss and help you plan for energy efficient upgrades in the future.

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Upcoming Webinar – Staying Alive: Strategies to Improve Shelf Life of Spring Crops

It’s almost November, there’s a chill in the air, leaves on the ground and spring is right around the corner! We’re sure that many of you are planning for 2022, and the next webinar in our series should help with your spring preparations.

Dr. Neil Mattson joins us to share his tips for spring production based on his extensive research in ornamental plant production. Dr. Mattson is a familiar face to many in the floriculture sector, and we are looking forward to his insights. Check out the details below, and don’t forget to register!

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Cost-Share Funding Alert: Canadian Agricultural Partnership Intake Opens November 15th

The next application intake for cost-share funding under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) will be November 15 to December 6, 2021. This is good timing if you are looking to implement improvements in your greenhouse for the 2022 season.

Adopting innovative automation to improve labour productivity is an eligible project area. (Image of an automatic cutting transplanter; AutoStix)
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Nutrient Solution Analysis Projects for Greenhouses and Vertical Farms in Ontario (Flowers, Vegetables and Cannabis)

This post was written by Fadi Al-Daoud and Cara McCreary, greenhouse vegetable specialists with OMAFRA, and originally appeared on the ONgreenhousevegetables blog.

Subirrigation in a dutch tray of gerbera plants

The quality of water and nutrient solution used in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) production systems, such as greenhouses and vertical farms, is one of the most important factors that affect plant health and yield. Growers monitor water and nutrient solution quality by sending samples for analysis to determine the levels of nutrients and salts. They also use sensors to monitor pH and electrical conductivity (EC) regularly to determine necessary adjustments for the nutrient solution. Growers may also analyze the microbiome, the genetic material of all the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in their water and nutrient solution, to evaluate levels of harmful pathogens, such as Pythium and Phytophthora species that cause root rot.

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Temporary Job Opportunity, Greenhouse Floriculture Specialist

Do you want to play a key role in supporting the competitiveness of Ontario’s greenhouse floriculture sector? If so, consider a temporary job opportunity to work as OMAFRA’s Greenhouse Floriculture Specialist for up to 12 months while Chevonne goes on maternity leave.

In this role, you will:

  • Act as the lead provincial specialist related to greenhouse floriculture production
  • Lead Ontario’s technology transfer activities through the development, coordination and implementation of strategies, policies and programs
  • Coordinate research and projects designed to assess the applicability of new and existing practices, products, technologies and programs to Ontario’s greenhouse floriculture production sector
  • Prepare educational and awareness building training and tools to facilitate change
  • Act as a liaison between the research community and industry
  • Manage contentious and high priority issues
  • Represent provincial and ministry interests on multidisciplinary working groups to develop provincial, national or international initiatives related to the greenhouse floriculture production sector

For more details, please see the job ad. Applications are due on September 1st, 2020.

 

New CAP intake: Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program

On May 14, 2020 the ministry announced the launch of the Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program for Producers. The intake is open to interested applicants and program materials have been posted online. Eligible applications for this cost-share funding will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available, meaning that it may be an advantage to submit an application as early as possible.

There are two cost-share project categories under the program: Occupational Health and Safety Measures and Workforce Access and Accommodation. Both categories offer 70% cost-share up to $7,500.  Projects must have started after May 14th to be eligible. Applicants may only submit one application per eligible business/farm property at a time. A maximum of one project per eligible business/farm property will be funded, no matter which category it falls under.  Continue reading

Resources and Strategies for Taking Care of Your Mental Health in Times of Crisis

As we advance towards May, the uncertainty around social restrictions, major changes in business operations, lost sales and contracts have left many of us feeling frustrated and anxious. Stress is nothing new to farmers and other horticultural business owners, but in times of crisis, stress can build to new heights causing even the most resilient business owners to struggle.

Having good mental health and emotional resilience can help to ensure that we are able to both enjoy life and deal with the challenges we are facing.  This balancing act can be difficult; sometimes you need to find outside resources that work for you to help keep you going. Continue reading