Orchid Greenhouse

Adaptation Council showcases successful projects at summer meeting

Guelph ON – Projects focused on livestock transportation emergencies, building a hazelnut industry in Ontario, and boosting innovation in floral greenhouses were in the spotlight at the Agricultural Adaptation Council’s (AAC) summer networking event in Hamilton on June 20.

The Council also provided an update on its funding programs and activities and announced a new joint funding initiative.

This past March, AAC wrapped up its successful delivery of Growing Forward 2 (GF2) to Ontario organizations and collaborations. Close to 400 projects received funding of $33.9 million through this program over the last five years.

AAC is now responsible for delivering the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) to Ontario organizations and collaborations. This federal-provincial-territorial initiative supports projects in three priority areas: economic development, environmental stewardship, and protection and assurance.

Research and innovation are the key focus across the Partnership’s 19 project categories. Funding is available for a range of activities including applied research, pilots, assessments, planning, and market development.

The next intake deadline is July 19.

“We want to encourage applications from Ontario organizations and collaborations across the sector to demonstrate that the need for the program is strong,” said AAC chair Kelly Duffy in her remarks.

AAC also delivers two programs targeted at the Ontario greenhouse sector: the $1 million Greenhouse Renewable Energy Technologies (GRET) initiative for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the $19 million Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative (GCII) for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

How to better deal with livestock transportation emergencies, particularly truck rollovers, was behind a GF2 project Farm & Food Care Ontario (FFCO) completed in partnership with Beef Farmers of Ontario.

A needs assessment of stakeholders from farmers and transporters to government, first responders and animal organizations resulted in one-on-one training for first responders in how to specifically address livestock transport emergencies. An emergency response manual for producers was also created.

“The need to train emergency responders is huge and we appreciate the GF2 funding that helped us complete this project – this was a first step in helping address the issue of livestock transportation emergencies,” said FFCO Program Manager Bruce Kelly.

Ontario Hazelnut Association (OHA) accessed project funding under both GF2 and the Partnership to support its efforts in building a hazelnut industry in Ontario. Orchard management recommendations for regions across Ontario were developed, two new cultivars were registered and tree trials were successfully established to give potential growers information on how to best grow hazelnuts in Ontario through GF2. Most recently, OHA was approved for Partnership funding to hire an administrator to help manage the growing organization.

“We’ve been run on a volunteer basis until now and this funding will help us increase our organizational capacity – it’s our next step to becoming a commodity organization with full-time staff,” said OHA’s Andrew Nixon.

Flowers Canada (Ontario) (FCO) is currently running a GRET initiative project to test a commercial dehumidification system that could help greenhouse flower, herb and tomato growers be more energy efficient by reducing their natural gas consumption.

Additionally, 26 per cent of FCO’s members, representing 50 per cent of its production, have accessed funding through the GCII program, completing projects on automation, energy reduction, irrigation, and new technologies like different growing media.

“These are two very innovative programs that are providing tremendous opportunity to grow the greenhouse sector,” said FCO Executive Director Andrew Morse. “They’re a great model and we’d love to see expansion of these types of opportunities.”

The evening wrapped up with an announcement of AAC’s joint initiative with Ontario Genomics. The Regional Priorities Partnership (RP3) Program, in partnership with Genome Canada, aims to promote the adoption of genomics-based technologies, tools and services within the Ontario agriculture and agri-food sector.

RP3 program materials will be available this September with applications due January 2019.

“I remain enthusiastic and optimistic about the Council’s future,” Duffy said in her closing remarks. “Opportunities for innovation are greater than ever and AAC can play an important role in assisting the industry as it moves forward.”