Stormwater retention pond outside a greenhouseStormwater retention ponds are the subject of a collaborative study between the University of Windsor and the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers.

Conference presentation highlights collaboration with local agriculture sector

At the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Greenhouse Conference, Great Lakes Institute for the Environmental Research (GLIER) professor Christopher Weisener presented on the co-operative research program between the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and the University of Windsor.

The conference took place on Oct. 9 and 10 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls. The annual event offers opportunities for agriculture leaders and developers to meet, discuss, and plan ways for future growth of the industry.

“I was invited to participate and share details of our ongoing projects within the research engagement forum,” says Dr. Weisener. “This opportunity allowed us to highlight our ongoing collaboration with the greenhouse sector in Essex County, and discuss our role in identifying how retention ponds behave with respect to nutrients. In other words, are they problematic and if so, how do we work with the growers to help manage them.”

His presentation was titled “Investigating Nutrient & Trace Element Dynamics in Greenhouse Water Retention Ponds.”

Weisener and his colleague on the project, GLIER professor Scott Mundle, were asked to engage with the growers’ association and assess and investigate their range of stormwater retention ponds in 2018. One of their goals is to discover whether there are any special chemical or biological conditions for releasing nutrients.

“We are still working with preliminary information,” says Weisener. “But our preliminary information is already providing key insight for management strategies. We’ve already characterized biological and chemical indicators that can identify which environmental practices are better and how they can benefit individual operators.”

The information from the project is being used to better inform the greenhouse operators of the best management practices and working strategies they can employ to manage their stormwater retention ponds.

“This collaboration has academic and greenhouse growers fully engaged at a round table,” says Weisener. “Operators are keen to continue studies which have a positive impact on the environment and this work will provide them with the tools needed to both assess and manage their retention ponds. We consider this to be the most important aspect and was a point I aimed to get across during my presentation.”

—Darko Milenkovic

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