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Alta. to redevelop research greenhouses

Alberta’s horticultural crop development centre is up for a $16.5 million overhaul, the province announced Wednesday.

Ag Minister George Groeneveld announced the province will demolish the 40-year-old greenhouse facilities at the Crop Diversification Centre South (CDCS) at Brooks, 180 km southeast of Calgary, and build a new, larger greenhouse facility at the site.

The new facility will have four times more greenhouse space and will feature new technologies such as high-transmission greenhouse coverings and more efficient growing systems, the province said.

The redevelopment project, already underway, calls for a new 1,100-square-metre research greenhouse, a 3,900-square-metre production greenhouse and a 750-square-metre support building, to be complete by late 2009.

That means an acre of pre-production greenhouse space as well as nine separately controlled greenhouse bays for CDCS researchers, the centre said on its web site.

The new design is expected to offer a flexible space, capable of adapting to different research requirements and industry developments, the province said in its release Wednesday.

“This new facility will provide crop scientists the space, equipment and flexibility they need to conduct important crop research and to simulate the production of crops in commercial-style greenhouses,” Infrastructure Minister Jack Hayden said in the release.

The province has operated the centre since 1935 to help establish and further expand Alberta’s horticulture sector. Sweet peppers, tomatoes, plums, raspberries and shelterbelt poplars have been among the plant varieties developed at CDCS, which the province also credits with helping to establish a commercial saskatoon berry industry in Alberta, beginning in the early 1980s.

The greenhouse industry is one of the fastest growing ag sectors in Alberta, tripling in size over the past 25 years, the province said. It called the Brooks site an ideal location for the new upgraded facility due to its close proximity to commercial growers; it also cited the support of researchers and experts specializing in areas such as plant pathology, irrigation technology and business development.

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