NC experts plant research seeds at OFVC

OFVC 2020

Flooding, severe storms, shorter winters, droughts – all of these weather conditions can have a significant impact on crops. Agriculture meteorologists offer specific weather forecasts to help farmers make decisions regarding their crops, or even preventative decisions if necessary.

What if looking at weather data differently allowed growers the opportunity to determine crop suitability according to their region? And what does the data show for Niagara?

Niagara College’s Mike Duncan, PhD, is a featured panelist at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention (OFVC), to answer those questions over the next couple of days. Duncan, who is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair for Colleges, specializing in precision agriculture and environmental technologies, leads a thought-provoking discussion on crop suitability during climate change, at the OFVC, taking place in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Feb. 19 & 20.

Hailed as Canada’s premier horticultural event, the convention brings together researchers, producers, industry experts, associations and educators. In its 18th year, the two-day event features world-class expert speakers, trade show exhibitors and networking opportunities.

Duncan shares an overview of the expensive datasets purchased a few years ago and the results of his team of computer analysts processed through a “very sophisticated interpolation engine.”

“It’s $155k worth of knowledge that nobody else has,” explains Duncan, adding the detailed weather data can re-create the growing conditions for any crop in Southern Ontario in the last 18 years. And it will offer a look at the ground level.

“The summers aren’t really getting any hotter, but we’re having longer periods of summer than we’re used to and we’re seeing higher temperatures in winter.”

To elaborate on how things look from the ground, Sarah Lepp, senior research associate with AETIC, is discussing the resulting impact on soil. An expert in environmental science, Lepp has experience in geographic information systems (GIS), field topography dataset analysis and creating the framework to improve and update existing soil property maps in Ontario.

The panel also includes a number of R&I industry partners in the precision agriculture field. Not only will the R&I team have an interactive display on the trade show floor, featuring products and innovations in the agri-food space, but several staff are also invited speakers in several sessions.

At the panel “Food Innovation: Trends, Opportunity, Adaptation” and co-chaired by R&I’s Elizabeth Best, business development coordinator, a featured speaker is Ana Cristina Vega Lugo, PhD, senior food scientist at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre.

There is growing interest in sustainable packaging for both consumers and commercial applications, that is functional, cost effective and energy efficient. Vega Lugo discusses various packaging innovations and how the agri-food industry is adapting to this change.

NC’s winemaker and instructor Gavin Robertson is co-chairing the panel: “Oenology” that looks at the current research in the grape and wine industries in the country.

For more information about the OFVC click HERE.