( Photo courtesy Pure Hothouse Foods )

The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association welcomes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s recent announcement of $5 million in funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support the Automation Cluster.

“Fruit and vegetable farmers are actively looking for ways to increase automation in their businesses to reduce their reliance on labor and maintain their competitiveness in a global marketplace,” greenhouse vegetable grower Jan VanderHout, chairman of the OFVGA, said in a news release. 

“We welcome this type of investment by the government to help the future profitability of our sector, both for existing crops and new ones that technological innovation may make it possible for us to grow in the future.”

The automation cluster, led by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre Inc., will focus on increased automation for the Canadian horticulture sector, with a particular focus on greenhouse production, according to a news release. 

The funding will address developing and testing robotic harvesters for greenhouse cucumbers, developing wireless smart irrigation technologies for potted flowers and vegetables, and developing state-of-the-art sensors that will help detect and monitor soil and air moisture levels, according to the release.