Harrow Research and Development Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
2585 County Road 20
The Harrow Research and Development Centre was established in 1909 in Harrow, Ontario. It is the location of one of the largest greenhouse research complex facilities in North America. The Centre manages two field sites, one on sandy soils at Harrow and a second one on clay-loam soils at the Honourable Eugene F. Whelan Experimental Farm close to Woodslee, Ontario.
The Harrow Research and Development Centre leads research in several areas, including:
- Soybean and invasive species
- Greenhouse production systems
- Environmentally sustainable agro-ecosystems for full-season crops in great lakes watershed
- Crop production & protection systems
Facilities at the Harrow Research and Development Centre
- 139 hectares of mainly sandy loam soil at Harrow
- 77 hectares of Brookston clay loam soil at the Honourable Eugene F. Whelan Experimental Farm at Woodslee, Ontario
- Expertise in plant breeding, crop physiology and management, entomology, plant pathology, weed science, and soil science
- Heritage field plots, maintained since 1959, are of international significance for examining soil and water quality and plant dynamics on clay loam soils
- Largest greenhouse research facility in North America; 0.7 hectares of state-of-the-art greenhouses
- Centre of Excellence for greenhouse and processing crops with specialized facilities
- The "Harrow Fertigation Manager" and hydroponics
- Located in southwest Ontario in the Great Lakes Basin which is in close proximity to Canada's largest production area for greenhouse and processing crops
- One of seven Canadian locations collaborating on the Minor Use Pesticide Program
- Site of the Canadian Clonal Genebank, a part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Plant Gene Resources of Canada program
Current research activities
Healthy crops in healthy environments
- Conducting research on ways to improve the efficiency and marketability of crops, while maintaining the quality of the soil and the integrity of the environment (that is, reduced nutrient losses and greenhouse gas emissions)
- Conducting regional and national studies on conservation tillage (minimal disturbances to the soil through tillage), management of water resources, managing soil nutrients, evaluating crop rotations, cover crops and conditioners to fertilize the soil including livestock manures and compost
- Optimizing greenhouse crop management through improved production practices, energy conservation, and greenhouse environment control
- Conducting research on beans and field vegetables with special emphasis on developing and evaluating varieties for yield, quality and disease resistance
- Developing high-yielding soybeans and edible beans with special quality traits for food processing in order to increase both domestic consumption and marketability to Europe and Pacific Rim countries
Protecting and preserving greenhouse and field crops
- Discovering best management practices for greenhouse and field crops to control insect and mite pests, plant diseases, weeds and invasive pests
- Conducting research on alternative methods to control insects including physical, cultural, and biological strategies
- Participating in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Minor Use Pesticide Program for greenhouse crops and field crops in Canadian Climatic Zone 5 with the goal of finding new reduced risk pest management technologies
- Preserving the genetic diversity of Canadian fruit crops by acquiring and maintaining wild plant material and named cultivated varieties in the Canadian Clonal Genebank
Results of our research
Horticulture - greenhouse crops (vegetable and ornamental)
- Developed sustainable, environment-friendly, energy-efficient, high-quality, and pesticide-free greenhouse crop production systems.
- Integrated pest management research and collaboration with industry, provincial and university partners has enabled:
- expansion of the greenhouse vegetable sector (5% a year over the last 5 years);
- increased use of biological control strategies (for example, research on predatory mites has increased use of biological control on cucumbers from 30% to more than 80%); and
- use of bee pollinators to deliver biocontrol agents for pest and disease management (commercialized and implemented worldwide). Research on biological control agents and bees under supplemental lighting contributed to year-round greenhouse vegetable production.
Agro-ecosystem productivity and health
- Developed improved nutrient and water management practices for the Great Lakes watershed to enhance water/nutrient use efficiency, soil functioning and reduce nutrient and pathogen losses in surface runoff and tile drainage and nitrous oxide loss to the atmosphere.
- Developed methods to improve soil properties and enhance/sustain soils.
- Developed best management practices: conservation (zone) tillage systems, water management systems (controlled drainage/sub-irrigation with an artificial wetland/reservoir), crop rotation, cover crops and use of manure based composts.
- Developed field, regional and national scale soil and water quality models; developed and validated Canadian agri-environmental indicators.
Cereal and pulses
- Released 28 dry bean and 18 food grade soybean varieties; developed technologies to evaluate food grade soybeans for quality traits.
- Generated knowledge on the ecology, population dynamics, plant-pest interactions, and management of current and emerging/invasive disease, weed, nematode, and insect pests of soybean, dry bean and winter wheat.
- Helped increase seed corn acreage in Canada and the competitiveness of this sector with other countries using data supporting 12 new uses for minor use herbicides.
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