September 15, 2017
Tour highlights innovative water management practices
Brian Sipkens presents his heated irrigation system.
On July 26, 60 members and non-members of the International Plant Propagator Society (IPPS) Eastern Region enjoyed a day of seminars and tours that highlighted irrigation with a focus on the implementation of the evapotranspiration model.

Over the past few years, Ontario growers have adjusted their water management practices to help adapt to the changing climate and to their ever-changing water needs. The day began at Warwick Community Centre in Watford, Ont. where morning seminars touched on several practices and how they’ve been implemented in the workplace. Presentations were made by several individuals in all aspects of the industry that covered topics such as acid injection systems, evapotranspiration and recapture ponds. The presenters discussed how they carried out these changes and how they overcame the challenges associated with improving crop quality while reducing costs.

Before lunch, guest speaker Lindsay Day of Saunders Brothers Nursery in Piney River, VA., highlighted the preventative measures they have taken against Boxwood Blight — a serious Boxwood fungal disease that has become more prevalent in the northern states. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, but there are many preventative measures that growers can implement.

Following lunch, the tours started at Sipkens Nurseries in Wyoming, Ont. The family-owned and operated nursery and garden centre specializes in perennials for the wholesale market. Attendees looked at production firsthand and toured both the perennial greenhouses and the garden centre. Currently, Sipkens has great success using heated water in their greenhouse to help wake dormant plants during cooler weather.
Cucumbers getting ready to shipCucumbers getting ready to ship.
The second tour stop was to Roelands Plant Farms in Lambton Shores, Ont., where attendees witnessed a state-of-the-art vegetable propagation facility. Having expanded to 12 acres of enclosed greenhouse space, Roelands’ has adopted a high-standard of hygiene and optimum growing conditions via UV sterilization of irrigation water, infloor heating, flood floors and height adjustable grow pipes. Biosecurity is also of major importance to help prevent contamination of their peppers, cucumbers and grafted tomatoes.

The final tour stop, Hillen Nursery in Mt. Brydges, Ont., is a family-owned and operated nursery since 1983. Hillen’s production includes: ornamental grasses, vines, evergreens, perennials, flowering shrubs and container grown ornamental and shade trees. At Hillen, guests had the privilege to tour themselves around the impressive 300-acre site or follow a guided tour. Hillen’s equipment was also on display, including a new potting machine and other equipment that play an important role in their production.

Thanks to the many generous sponsors of this successful event: Gro-Bark (Ontario), Hillen Nursery, Fafard, Kam’s Grower Supply, Plant Products, Profile Products, ICl Specialty Fertilizers, ACROBATic Controls, Bloom ‘n Nursery, and Haviland Plastic Products. Thanks also to Landscape Ontario and to dedicated IPPS members who organized the event, including: Bart Brusse, Brian Sipkens, Keith Osborne and Stephanie West.