State-of-the-art labs for research into ways to reduce pesticide use will open Friday at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
The research will explore beneficial insects, fungi and viruses to control pests in greenhouses, gardens and farmers’ fields.
“We’re building B.C.’s reputation for leadership in environmental protection and the green economy by investing in first-rate researchers and top-notch labs for them to work in,” said Iain Black, minister of small business, technology and economic development in a news release.
“By funding a LEEF chair in sustainable horticulture, and the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture’s new facilities, we’re supporting innovations that will give our growers a green edge.”
The release also announced the appointment of Deborah Henderson, director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, as LEEF chair. Henderson has worked closely with private companies, growers associations and government agencies on integrated pest management for several years and will build on this hands-on experience.
“We will develop new biocontrol products from our native strains of viruses and fungi which will target pests in our major crops and landscapes,” Henderson said.
“Food production is changing, and the mass importation of cheap produce from far-away places may not survive global warming and the increasing cost of transportation. To have the security of healthy food and a healthy environment, we need to support our local growers and food systems with the products and markets they need to stay vibrant and viable. ”
Government’s $1.25-million endowment for the LEEF regional innovation chair was matched by the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation with funds from private donors.
The province also invested $2.2 million in the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture’s new facilities – 450 square metres of research labs on the Langley campus, and a 700-square-metre research greenhouse to study the potential for geothermal heat as a clean energy source.
The $7.1-million research facility, Kwantlen’s first, will have climate-controlled rooms for rearing insects, specialized rooms for production of beneficial fungi and viruses, a molecular diagnostic lab, and two research labs for study of the insects and microbial biocontrols. The adjacent greenhouse, as well as being used to test alternate energy options such as geothermal heating and cooling systems, will provide 500 square metres of growing space to study production systems for new indoor crops.