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Digging into Brock agri-research without getting dirty

'It's about positioning Niagara and Ontario as an agriculture centre of excellence in the world'
Mike McLeod, left, production manager with Westbrook Greenhouses in Beamsville, Ont., leads a September tour for the Niagara Agriculture Municipal Learning Network. The online Brock NCO-Agri-Food Innovation Research Day taking place Jan. 25 will discuss the development of agricultural systems and knowledge mobilization in Niagara and beyond. Photo courtesy of Amy Lemay

Strategies to boost the Niagara and Ontario agricultural sectors will be among the Brock research highlights shared at an upcoming community event.
Taking place virtually Jan. 25, Brock NCO-Agri-Food Innovation Research Day will explore the findings of three research projects and discuss strategies such as applying innovative technologies, abiding by best management practices and sharing information with 
stakeholders to strengthen the sector.

“It's about positioning Niagara and Ontario as an agriculture centre of excellence in the world,” says Director of Brock’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) Charles Conteh, who notes the agriculture sector is “one of the flagship economic drivers” in the region.

Those speaking at and attending the Research Day, to be held online in three sessions from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., will include researchers, farmers and representatives from industry and government. To attend the online event, contact NCO Research Co-ordinator Carol Phillips at [email protected].

The morning session consists of a research presentation and panel discussion on the NCO report “Building Competitive Agri-food Production Systems: Recommendations for Accelerating the Adoption of Automation and Robotics Technology in Ontario’s Agriculture Sector.” The report is a culmination of a two-year project that included a survey, interviews and focus groups to better understand the barriers and incentives for farmers to adopt automation and 
robotics technologies.

The lunchtime session will be a summary and wrap-up of the Niagara Agriculture Municipal Learning Network (NAMLN), which provided resources and information for local municipal politicians and staff on how best to support and promote the region’s agricultural sector.The afternoon discussion will focus on barriers to knowledge mobilization — the uptake and practical application of insights and information generated through research — that prevent farmers, industry and others from adopting best management practices in Ontario’s horticultural sector.

Although all three discussions will focus on different aspects of agricultural development, “innovation at large is the common theme across all three of those projects,” says NCO Post-doctoral Research Fellow and agriculture specialist Amy Lemay.

“There is definitely untapped potential in the region for agricultural innovation,” says Lemay. “With this Brock NCO-Agri-Food Innovation Research Day, we’re showing the connections between the three projects and bringing people with many different perspectives together.”

Supporting these three NCO projects is funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), a five-year, $3-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen and grow Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector.
The funds are being channelled to the NCO through Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
What: Brock NCO-Agri Innovation Research Day, an online symposium where Brock 
researchers will present and discuss three projects funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

  • When: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Who: The NCO research team, including NCO Director Charles Conteh, Research Fellow Amy Lemay and NCO Associate Director Jeff Boggs, will present findings and recommendations.
  • Panelists for the morning session include Steve Boese, manager of Innovate Niagara’s tech incubator; Chris Mullet Koop, farmer/owner of Elmwood Farms and president of the Niagara 
  • Federation of Agriculture; Kristen Obeid, OMAFRA weed-management specialist; and Bill VandenOever, design and project management for Bold Robotic Solutions Inc. 
  • Knowledge broker Bunmi Okuwa will provide an overview of the activities of NAMLN during the lunchtime session. For the afternoon session, research assistants Kaitlyn Carr, Shannon Ruzgys and Paige Fournier will present the knowledge mobilization project finding. 
  • Where: Microsoft Teams
  • To register: RSVP to Carol Phillips, [email protected]. A calendar invitation with an MS 
  • Teams link will be sent upon receiving the RSVP.