Tools such as the Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) program play a big role in developing future leaders who aim to participate fully in research innovation. The program provides industry access, educational opportunities and funding to students with promise in research excellence.
The labour-intensive task of harvesting and pruning has become a challenge for greenhouse vegetable growers, making up to 30 per cent of their overall costs.
Can robots help?
Prof. Medhat Moussa, School of Engineering, thinks so. He’s developing a robot system he hopes will be able to harvest, package and de-leaf greenhouse crops without assistance from humans. A prototype is currently being put to the test by harvesting tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers—Ontario’s main greenhouse crops—in Leamington greenhouses.
As food production becomes more complex, research results – and the dissemination of results to end-users – becomes even more important. Aiding in the dissemination of swine research results is one role of the Ontario Swine Research Network (OSRN).
A huge $15.5-million facelift is underway at the Elora Research Station, with the construction of a new cow-calf research centre, a facility owned by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and managed by the University of Guelph under the OMAFRA-U of G Agreement. A separate project will repurpose 200 acres of land to create pasture at the station and almost double the capacity for livestock on site.
University of Guelph researchers at the Simcoe Research Station are field testing enhanced common wine-quality grape rootstocks in preparation for winter to determine if even more viticulture development can take place across Ontario.
One of the greatest challenges of big data for researchers is the sheer volume of information generated by the rapidly expanding number of studies on any given subject. Another is the wide range of conclusions at which seemingly similar studies arrive. For example, consider the many conflicting reports about the benefits or hazards of a particular food or ingredient, depending on which study is quoted.
Historically, research has been a long-term investment. Whether the subject was health care, engineering or agri-food sciences, advancements have been mostly incremental. Over the long term, the small but steady gains have brought us to current yields, efficiencies and knowledge that were previously unimaginable.
The provincial government will invest up to $713 million toward a unique agreement between the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to further discovery and innovation and position Canada as a world leader in agri-food.
Using fossil fuels to heat greenhouses is expensive and environmentally unsustainable. But how about heating them with plant waste from the greenhouses themselves?
That’s what Prof. Animesh Dutta, School of Engineering, is working towards. He’s producing a fuel-flexible boiler (heater) that can use a variety of non-conventional, yet readily available fuels in an efficient way.
One such fuel is called biocarbon. It’s made from plant matter – leaves, stems and vines of greenhouse plants – that is abundant in greenhouses, is costly to dispose of and has no resale value.
Prof Beverley Hale has been appointed U of G’s new associate vice-president research (agri-food partnership).