Innovation Reports
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December 2012 - Novel grasses may be the answer to the next generation of home lawns

New research at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is looking at how to further develop a truly sustainable and resilient home lawn. With issues of lawn care inputs such as fertilizers and water usage top of mind with homeowners, new varieties of tall fescues and perennial rye grasses may offer the solution. 

These grasses have long been valued for their drought tolerance, low maintenance, and the speed at which they establish, which also helps prevent weed encroachment.  There is also evidence to suggest greater insect tolerance in some rye grass and fescue cultivars. Their utility however has been limited as they tend to grow in clumps leaving bare patches in a lawn. For this reason, fescues and perennial rye grasses are traditionally mixed with other species such as Kentucky bluegrass to compensate. 

Several new fescue and rye grass varieties coming to the Canadian market appear to have the characteristics and growth habits to overcome these limitations. ‘Creeping’ tall fescue and rye grasses for example, have growth habits that are very similar to Kentucky blue making them much more acceptable for lawns. These varieties are characterized by their development of extensive, deep root systems which increases access to water and nutrients, delivering enhanced drought and heat tolerance, and reduced need for fertilizer and supplemental water requirements. New varieties of Kentucky bluegrass are also emerging which have lower water demands. These grasses are demonstrating qualities that will form the foundation of a robust and sustainable home lawn.

Trials are underway in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute to validate performance of the creeping tall fescue and perennial ryegrasses. Conditions presented in the 2012 season provided a good test for year one evaluation of grass performance. Research results will be shared at the 2013 Ontario Turfgrass Symposium or for more information contact Michael Brownbridge at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre directly

Funding for this research was received in part from RTF Water Saver, Quality Seeds, Dufferin LawnLife and the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation.


October 2012 - A Complete Guide on Water Treatment Technologies in the Making


Canadian greenhouse and nursery growers are proactive when it comes to efficiently using water resources for crop production. An increasing number of operations are recycling their irrigation water or looking for ways to treat nutrient-rich process water before discharging it to the environment.

However, one of the challenges for growers is in clearly understanding the technology choices available, and the best fit for their operations. To address this issue, Dr. Youbin Zheng, Chair of Environmental Horticulture at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and the University of Guelph, and his team are collecting information to create a complete list of irrigation treatment technologies. Information on each technology will include purpose and function, advantages and disadvantages, technical information (such as critical levels for disinfectants), cost of installation and operation, and contact information for technology providers.

The guide will be available in spring of 2013 as a web-based tool and will give growers and other stakeholders the necessary information to make the right decision with a few clicks of the mouse.

This project was funded in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Research and Innovation Cluster. The cluster is a program delivered by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre on behalf of the Canadian Ornamental Horticultural Alliance of which the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association is a founding member. For more information on this project or other ‘cluster’ projects please visit


August 2012 - The Innovation Report

CNLA with industry partners, Fédération Interdisciplinaire de l'Horticulture Ornementale du Québec, and Flowers Canada Growers is two years into a targeted research program that’s being delivered by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Niagara Region, Ontario. The ‘cluster program’ as it has been coined, receives funding in part from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and involves researchers at public and private institutions across six provinces. This program is unique in design. It is driven by industry and has a laser focus on results that are timely and of immediate value.

In total, sixteen projects were approved by an industry panel within the general priority areas of water use reduction technologies, plant micro-climate in the greenhouse, pest and weed control agents, shipping and point of sale product quality improvements, ornamental plant innovation, and reduction of nutrient run-off. Results are now coming due.

Green Roof Technologies, a project led by Rumen Conev at Vineland, with a second study location at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College is taking a hard look at green roof planting options with 37 native species under evaluation. The 37 species selected have generally not been well-utilized in green roof settings. A collateral study is also investigating potential invasiveness traits of the same species, in addition to winter survivability.

With major cities like Toronto mandating green roofs on new commercial, institutional, residential and industrial developments, with a minimum gross floor area of 2,000 square meters, the green roof market is heating up. This project will deliver on a new pallet of proven winners for green roof designers and a verified list of native plants for grower, nursery and landscape operators.

For more details on the cluster program and project results go to 

Green roof research at Vineland

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