Lab Canada

$2M state-of-art greenhouse to advance crop research

Saskatoon, SK May 6, 2003 A C$2-million greenhouse expansion that will advance University of Saskatchewan plant research and teaching plus help reduce the time and cost involved in developing new crop varieties has been officially opened.

“This new state-of-the-art facility will more than double the amount of agricultural greenhouse space on campus, greatly benefitting our researchers and students and building on our excellent national and international reputation in agricultural research,” says Peter MacKinnon, president of the university.

The expansion was funded with more than $682,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and $1.28 million from the Agriculture Building Trust Fund comprised of donations from alumni, students, industry and the public during the 1980s.

The project was one component of a $15.24-million package of College of Agriculture infrastructure upgrades announced in the fall of 2000.

“The need for additional greenhouse facilities is a sign of the expanding plant breeding, biotechnology and plant pathology programs both within our college of agriculture and in the surrounding research and commercial community,” said Ernie Barber, dean of the college of agriculture. “Until now, our greenhouse facilities were not sufficient to meet the teaching, research and service commitments of the college and there were waiting lists for space.”

The new complex will increase agricultural greenhouse space to more than 20,000 square feet (6,666 square metres), including a “glass house” with extra-wide panes of tempered glass that result in a 10% increase in light.

“This will mean it will take 10-per-cent less time to grow a crop,” says plant sciences professor Doug Waterer. “Consultants who work internationally on greenhouses tell us that our new greenhouses have the most light of any they’ve seen.”

This glass house will also enable researchers to simulate the types of problems encountered by Saskatchewan’s commercial greenhouse growers. “For instance, we have begun research comparing organic fertilizers versus standard fertilizers,” says Waterer. “This is research we wouldn’t be capable of doing if we didn’t have this facility.”

There will also be 4,800 sq ft of polyethylene-covered greenhouse space equipped with lights, in-floor heat and flood floors that that will assist in teaching students about commercial greenhouse management. The expansion will include a 400-sq ft laboratory for research into plant diseases.