Guelph, Vineland Ink New Research Partnership
Agreement expected to yield new ideas, products for grape growers and winemakers, fruit producers, professional landscapers
BY ANDREW VOWLES
U of G and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre have signed a research partnership agreement to collaborate on national and international industry-driven horticultural research initiatives.
The agreement, signed May 5 by Prof. Kevin Hall, vice-president (research), and Vineland CEO Jim Brandle, is expected to yield new ideas and products for Canada’s grape growers and winemakers, fruit producers and professional landscapers, ranging from new fruit cultivars with health-boosting antioxidants to wider food choices at the supermarket.
Both partners will conduct research and develop products for the multi-million-dollar agri-food industry, says Prof. Rich Moccia, interim associate vice-president (research) agri-food and partnerships.
“Signing this new agreement takes us in a brand new direction,” says Moccia. “It takes the best of the capacity of the University of Guelph and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and establishes a partnership to explore and use the latest technologies to improve products, quality and choice and to increase economic wealth.”
It also promotes building private- and public-sector partnerships, funding intellectual capacity and human resources, and allowing for more rapid commercialization of research technology.
“The signing of this partnership agreement with the University of Guelph is an important milestone for us at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre,” says Brandle. “We’re very pleased to be able to work with the calibre of faculty scientists, researchers and staff who are on site at Vineland as we move to deliver on our industry-driven research priorities.”
The agreement builds on research collaborations involving faculty in U of G’s Department of Plant Agriculture and will allow Guelph scientists to explore new research collaborations at Vineland, particularly in three main fields:
- Consumer insights and product innovation. A new sensory analysis laboratory, directed by a sensory and consumer science expert, will allow researchers to conduct consumer and marketing tests of new wines, juices and horticultural products.
- Applied genomics. A world-leading researcher in applied genomics will use biotechnology and plant breeding to help develop horticultural crops to increase yield, resist disease and meet consumer demand.
- Horticultural production systems. Researchers at Guelph and Vineland will develop horticultural technologies and production methods, including cultivation techniques, greenhouse technologies and pest management.
Established in 2006, the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre has received funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Both levels of government will continue to fund Vineland research over a five- year period. Under the new agreement, the centre will receive about $1.75 million a year through the existing U of G/OMAFRA partnership agreement for agri-food research, teaching and lab services.
The Vineland Research Station has existed for more than 100 years. More than 150 new varieties of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants have been developed there. In the 1960s, it was grouped under the Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario, along with research stations in Simcoe and the Holland Marsh. All three stations were transferred to the Department of Plant Agriculture in 1998 as part of the original agreement with OMAFRA.
Recently, U of G researchers based at Vineland have developed varieties of fruits for Canadian growers, including peaches, plums, grapes, cherries and pears. They have also studied mushroom production, cultural management of farm and orchard varieties, and environmental management