2 Minutes with Jean Caron
February 16, 2016
Jean Caron and his industry partners are optimizing irrigation techniques for organic soils. Their collaboration led to the development of a software tool that allows real-time monitoring of the amount of water required by crops based on a variety of conditions. This software can help vegetable producers enhance crop productivity and achieve significant water and energy savings. Dr. Caron won one of NSERC's Synergy Awards for Innovation in 2015.
|Denys Van Winden||
The group of producers of the Van Winden families, at this moment, is the biggest group of lettuce producers in North America. So, we are the ones who supply processing plants on the east coast with fresh-picked lettuce and who deliver to them, often on the same day. Professor Caron held a conference on precision irrigation. After the conference, I met with professor Caron and asked him, “Could we work together?”
The specific problem was essentially related to water management. They were not sure of the best time to irrigate the crops and, more importantly, how to address a disorder in plants that we call tipburn, which they frequently encountered. Even when this disorder is only minimally present, entire crops must be destroyed because the vegetables’ shelf life will be too short. When this happens, producers experience significant financial losses. So, we conducted experiments in the lab, experiments using growth cabinets, to try to understand why the plants were showing symptoms. Once we had identified the reasons for the disorder, for the problem, we then proposed solutions.
|Gabriel Van Winden||
Before, when deciding whether or not to irrigate the fields, we would go to the fields and check the soil to see if it was dry enough, and we would check the weather forecast over the next few days. We would then make the decision to irrigate or not.
Thanks to the project with Université Laval, we collected directly, in real time, the information telling us whether to irrigate or not.
All the research we conducted on the mechanisms of water transfer allowed us to see that there were also drainage problems. So, now we are working on finding solutions for improving drainage in these soils and ensuring the preservation of this resource for future generations.