Major Aquaponics Project Planned for the Yukon An innovative approach to northern food production is receiving $75,000 in federal CanNor funding. North Star Agriculture Inc., a subsidiary of Gray Dragon Investment Corporation, is developing the first indoor, vertical aquaponics farm in the Yukon. Aquaponics is an innovative method of farming that raises fish and vegetables simultaneously. In a mutually beneficial relationship, nutrients from fish waste feed growing vegetables, while the plants filter the water that keeps fish healthy. The first of its kind north of 60, the vertical farm will have a capacity equivalent to three hectares of land, and the ability to produce 200 tonnes of fish and over 200,000 kg of produce annually. Development of a northern aquaponics farm will create local employment while decreasing reliance on food transported from southern regions. Visit cannor.gc.ca for more information. U OF GUELPH A WORLD AG LEADER The University of Guelph is among the top agri-food universities in the world, according to a new global ranking of universities. The Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR), publisher of the largest academic ranking of universities worldwide, has released its inaugural subjects ranking. U of G ranked third in the agriculture, dairy and animal science category, and fourth in food and technology. For both categories, it was the No. 1 university in Canada, and the only Canadian school to make the “Top 10” lists. “These rankings reflect the excellence of our faculty, staff and students, and the strong support of our many dedicated partners, especially the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs,” said Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College. He said the results reflect U of G’s recent agri-food successes, including a $77-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund awarded last fall for the University’s Food From Thought project, and a $20-million gift announced last month for the Arrell Food Institute. “These rankings also remind us of the leadership opportunities and responsibilities we have in agriculture and food not only provincially and nationally but globally,” Van Acker said. The rankings are based on faculty quality and research intensity, specifically articles published in top-tier journals. The top-ranked schools in agriculture were Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin- Madison. BY THE NUMBERS 150K Average net operating income for greenhouses, 2016. Total greenhouse flower and plant sales by greenhouses in 2016. $1.5B 62% Share of total greenhouse floriculture sales by indoor and outdoor potted plants in 2016. Total greenhouse flower and plant sales in 2016: BC 21.3% ON 52.5% QUE 10.3% 16.5M Geraniums led potted plant sales by growers in 2016. $140M Value of cut flower sales by greenhouse growers in 2016. Another year of industry growth Total sales of the greenhouse, nursery and sod industries reached $3.6 billion in 2016, according to StatsCan. Greenhouse products accounted for 78.5 per cent of all greenhouse, nursery and sod sales. Greenhouse fruit and vegetable sales were up 3.6 per cent, while flower and plants sales (including resales) increased 0.9 per cent. Ornamental product sales (including greenhouse flowers and plants, nursery products, and sod products) totalled $2.3 billion in 2016. Total greenhouse flower and plant sales (including resales) totalled $1.5 billion in 2016. Ontario (52.5 per cent), British Columbia (21.3 per cent) and Quebec (10.3 per cent) had the largest shares of total greenhouse flower and plant sales. Indoor and outdoor potted plants made up the largest share of all flowers and plants produced and sold, accounting for 61.9 per cent of total greenhouse floriculture sales. Ontario was responsible for close to half of potted plant values in 2016. NEW OUTDOOR POTTED PLANT CATEGORIES Several new outdoor potted plant categories were added to reporting this year, for example, potted herb plants (10.7 million pots), potted vegetable plants (7.2 million pots) and calibrachoas (2.6 million pots). Geraniums still accounted for the largest variety, with 16.5 million pots produced. Cut flowers sales decreased 4.5 per cent to $140 million, with Ontario accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the sales in Canada. Greenhouse vegetable sales totalled $1.3 billion in 2016, or about $175 million higher than the value of field grown vegetables (published in The Daily on Feb. 1, 2017). Sales of greenhouse tomatoes rose 5.9 per cent to $544.5 million, while sales of peppers decreased 1.5 per cent to $419.7 million. Cucumbers had the largest percentage increase, with sales rising 7.4 per cent to $334.2 million. Eggplant sales totalled $7.7 million in 2016. TOTAL EXPENSES ROSE 3.4 PER CENT Total operating expenses for greenhouses rose 3.4 per cent to $2.5 billion in 2016. Labour costs accounted for 29 per cent of total operating expenses. The total number of greenhouse employees decreased 1.6 per cent to 32,829, while payroll expenses increased 1.4 per cent to $713.1 million Greenhouse crop expenses, electricity and plant material purchases continued to increase, while total fuel expenses decreased. LOWER NURSERY SALES Total nursery sales (including resales) decreased 11.6 per cent from 2015 to $635.6 million in 2016. This was mainly due to the fact that operations that exclusively produce tree seedlings for reforestation were excluded from these data in 2016. Nursery operating expenses declined 8.0 per cent to $559.4 million. Labour costs accounted for 36.2 per cent of total operating expenses. The total number of nursery employees fell 11.3 per cent to 11,663, and labour costs decreased 10 per cent to $202.4 million.
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