The Greenhouse Complex of the London Research and Development Centre

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Frontal view of the greenhouse complex of the London Research and Development Centre

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's London Research and Development Centre in Ontario is home to a state-of-the-art $10-million greenhouse complex. The facility is an exciting milestone in the Centre's record of research excellence in field crops, bio-based products and processes, genomics and biotechnology, and integrated pest management. Take a video tour of the greenhouse to see the exciting research being done at the London facility.

The greenhouse complex provides controlled environment facilities for research that contributes to the productivity, yield and sustainability of the agricultural sector. Research projects in the greenhouse will help:

  • identify fruit tree germplasm that is resistant to the plum pox virus;
  • reduce the reliance of cereal grain crops on commercial nitrogen fertilizer;
  • use protein trafficking technologies to develop plant-based animal vaccines;
  • improve the nutritional quality of dry beans; and
  • develop higher yielding, higher quality alfalfa cultivars for the dairy and cattle industry.

Collaborative partners include the University of Guelph, Western University, the Ontario Bean Producers' Marketing Board and the Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Facts and figures

  • Total greenhouse area: 832 square metres (m2)
  • Total greenhouse bench area: 257 m2
  • Height to gutters: 6.4 metres
  • Header house area: 560 m2
  • Number of high pressure sodium lights: 220

Designed for maximum flexibility and space use efficiency

  • A combination of large and small compartments enables researchers sharing similar environment needs to work within the same space.
  • Tall wall sides provide uniform environmental conditions and permit culture of diverse plant species.
  • The state-of-the-art environmental control system provides a wide range of temperature, lighting and humidity settings, and enables archiving and tracking over the course of the experiment.
  • Rolling benches permit maximization of usable space with convenient access.
  • Each compartment is fitted with automated irrigation and fertilizer injection systems.

More about the bio-containment facility

  • The facility meets the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's rigorous bio-containment standards for research involving level 2 plant pathogens.
  • The greenhouse is segmented into three independent bio-containment zones allowing incremental use of the facility.
  • Segmentation allows researchers to conduct experiments along the continuum of bio-containment restrictions.
  • Each zone has its own drainage catchment for neutralization of organisms that may pose an environmental risk.
  • Compartments are under constant negative pressure towards areas of higher containment.
  • Supply and exhaust air are filtered or screened in order to contain and exclude pests.
  • Access to different bio-contained zones is by swipe card only.
  • Each zone is equipped with an eye wash station and emergency shower.

Header House

Soil preparation, pot filling, and planting operations normally take place in the header house. It is also where pesticides are prepared under tightly regulated, safe-handling protocols. The header house is equipped with:

  • 25 m2 of sink and bench space;
  • washrooms, lockers and shower facilities;
  • 42 m2 soil preparation room;
  • pot clean-up and autoclave facility for waste decontamination; and
  • additional space for cold rooms and growth cabinets.

Pesticide-free wing

A second smaller greenhouse wing located immediately south of the current greenhouse accommodates research on insect pests. This greenhouse is used for research that does not allow the use of pesticides for insect control.

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Side view of greenhouse complex of the London Research and Development Centre
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Plants in the greenhouse complex of the London Research and Development Centre
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