The Government of Canada invests $5M in greenhouse automation research
November 27, 2018 By Fruit & Veg magazine
The Canadian greenhouse sector is the largest and fastest growing segment of Canadian horticulture, thanks to the dedication and endless hard work from our growers across the country. This past year, Canadian greenhouse vegetable sales totalled over $1.4 billion, with over $900 million of sales in Ontario.
Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food recently visited the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to announce a federal investment of up to $5 million to the Automation Cluster under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Cluster will be led by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre Inc.
Canada’s agricultural sector faces significant labour challenges and the greenhouse industry has the largest labour gap. It is estimated that labour shortages can cost the sector up to $1.5 billion in lost productivity and sales.
The Automation Cluster will help address labour costs and availability through automation, artificial intelligence and precision agriculture technologies in the horticulture sector. Over the next five years, world-class researchers at Vineland will focus research on three key areas, including:
- Developing and testing robotic harvesters for greenhouse cucumbers;
- Developing smart, wireless irrigation technologies for potted flowers and vegetables; and
- Developing state-of-the-art sensors that will help detect and monitor moisture levels in the soil and air.
“Our Government is proud to support the innovative research at Vineland and we will continue to work with Canada’s growers and researchers to keep the sector on the cutting edge. This investment in automation will allow farms and greenhouses to work smarter and deliver higher quality jobs, ensuring they continue to meet the growing demand for top-quality products for Canadians and consumers around the world,” said Minister MacAulay.
“This funding is critical to the industry and Vineland is pleased to manage a national network focused on developing automation, artificial intelligence and precision technology to improve the competitive position of Canadian growers,” added Tania Humphrey, chief scientific officer, with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.
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