Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to get $330K for two projects

·2 min read

More cash from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership is flowing into Niagara.

Announced at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC) on March 18 during a rare in-person news conference, at least $330,000 of taxpayer dollars from the federal-provincial agriculture partnership will be used for the purchase of specialized equipment to improve research capabilities for two VRIC research projects.

The first project will look at harvesting and storage practices for apples and tomatoes, with research being improved by the use of new equipment to evaluate air quality, food ripening and shelf life, revealed Toby Barrett, the parliamentary assistant to the province’s agriculture minister.

“With respect to our massive integrated food system, it’s so important to be able to have storage, particularly over the winter,” Barrett said, noting his prior experience working in a controlled-atmosphere apple storage facility.

The fruit research, he said, will help growers to make “better decisions, essentially, with respect to ongoing commercialization.”

The second project is a “tree compartment prototype” which will act as a field laboratory, allowing for testing and soil research with an initial 80 “cells.” The cells will reflect controlled conditions of different urban growing conditions.

That project, Barrett said, is “designed to help municipalities identify the best kind of trees to plant in urban environments on streetscapes.”

Ian Potter, VRIC president and CEO, said the tree compartments are the first of their kind, “not just in Ontario, but in Canada.”

Barrett and Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, who was also on hand, heaped praise on VRIC’s contributions to Ontario’s agri-food sector.

“It is so important for those of us who have farms and are involved in agriculture and specifically horticulture,” Barrett said.

“It’s amazing the touch points that horticulture has on people,” Potter remarked.

“This investment in state-of-the art science and research equipment allows Vineland to expand our capability and capacity of breeding methods, biochemistry and plant genetics to benefit the whole horticultural sector.”

Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week