Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation
Table of Contents
Many greenhouse operations use circulation systems to deliver water and fertilizer to greenhouse crops that are grown without the use of soil. Some greenhouses use closed circulation systems that re-use the nutrient-rich water, or nutrient solution, continuously (Figure 1).
There are times when the nutrient solution is no longer suitable for growing greenhouse crops. At this point, the nutrient solution can be removed and used to fertilize other agricultural crops. Greenhouse nutrient feedwater (GNF) is the nutrient solution removed from a closed circulation system at a greenhouse operation that is registered under the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation, O. Reg 300/14 (the regulation). GNF still has nutrient value suitable for certain crops. Re-using the material is a good option for some growers.
Figure 1. A closed circulation system. Greenhouse nutrient feedwater is the nutrient solution that is removed from the closed circulation system of a registered greenhouse.
The regulation, made under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (NMA), sets out the rules for managing GNF generated by a registered greenhouse, including rules on storage, transportation and land application. The regulation is effective as of January 1, 2015. You can read the full regulation on the e-Laws website.
The Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation gives greenhouse growers another tool to use to comply with environmental standards. Other than the NMA, greenhouse operations can choose to:
These options are managed under legislation other than the NMA. See the "more information" section below for information on who you can contact about each of these options.
The regulation adopts the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Management Protocol and the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Sampling and Analysis Protocol. These protocols outline the rules of the regulation, and rules that are in addition to those written in the regulation. The requirements of the protocols are part of the regulation and are legally enforceable. The protocols outline requirements such as:
The NMA and O. Reg 300/14 are managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and enforced by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). Environmental protection is a top priority for both ministries.
The regulation was developed based on an analysis of the risks posed by GNF application to land, the risk of nutrients entering waterways and the potential benefits for agricultural crops. The regulation:
Amendments to O. Reg. 525/98 under the OWRA exempt greenhouse operations that register under the GNF Regulation from requiring an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) for sewage systems that only manage GNF (outlined in s. 53 of the OWRA). This is to ensure there is no regulatory duplication. The OWRA regulates the direct discharge of GNF to groundwater or surface water.
Part III of the regulation and Part 3 of the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Management Protocol set out the rules for greenhouses operations that wish to register under the NMA. Greenhouse operations must prepare their registration in a form specified by the Director and submit it to the Director. The registration must contain all information required by Part III of the regulation and Part 3 of the protocol. If the operation has five or more nutrient units, a GNF strategy must also be submitted at the same time as the registration of the greenhouse operation. The strategy:
Protecting the Great Lakes and other waterways is an important way to make sure that everyone has access to safe drinking water, clean beaches and a healthy environment. The GNF Regulation helps to protect the Great Lakes by providing greenhouse operators with a cost-effective option to manage GNF in a way that reduces the amount of phosphorus entering out waterways. There are many ways the regulation protects our waterways, including:
OMAFRA developed a series of web pages that provides brief overviews of the regulation as it applies to:
Risks related to GNF management processes selected
There are a number of options available that meet the requirements of the GNF Regulation. If you register under the regulation, you need to understand that in some cases certain options selected may have negative impacts if processes do not work out as planned. An example of this is if you choose the 24-month GNF generation option and do not install a GNF storage (which is allowed in the regulation). If for some reason you generate GNF at a time when land is not available for application, you must use a contingency process to properly manage the GNF. If this process is not available, you will not be able to generate GNF. This may cause plant damage and shutdown of your operation, which could result in severe financial impact.
NMAN is a software program developed by OMAFRA to help implement the nutrient management program. Consultants, farmers, greenhouse operators and other businesses can use the software to plan for non-agricultural source material, agricultural source material and GNF compliance, analyze options and print reports to demonstrate compliance.
We updated the NMAN software to include a worksheet to help individuals develop Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater strategies and plans. Visit the NMAN web page for more information on these updates.
Training and education
The regulation prescribes a number of nutrient management practices. These practices include:
Before carrying out any of these practices, you must meet the applicable requirements and complete the appropriate training. There are different requirements depending on the practice you wish to do.
GNF training requirements (for the purposes of subsections 71(5) and 71(6) of the regulation)
For nutrient management consultants and people wanting to prepare GNF strategies, plans and land application schedules for agricultural operations they do not own, operate or work for:
For GNF generators and receivers, greenhouse controllers and farmers wanting to prepare GNF strategies, plans and land application schedules for operations they own, manage or work for:
For independent carriers and people wanting to transport GNF for and between operations they do not own, operate or work for:
For people who represent businesses that want to land apply GNF and/or complete Land Application Schedules for agricultural operations they do not own, operate or work for, and the operations are subject to a GNF Plan:
For operators of land application equipment wanting to land apply GNF for agricultural operations they do not own, operate or work for:
Training and educational materials for individuals or companies who are interested in carrying out the practices listed above are available from the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. Visit the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus website for more information on GNF training and educational resources, and for other nutrient management courses and certification opportunities.
Best Management Practice booklets
OMAFRA has Best Management Practices booklets to help greenhouse operators do self-assessments for their water and fertilizer use.
The following booklets will be available in 2015:
Watch our Best Management Practices videos on water treatment and recycling for greenhouses and container nurseries to learn how you can improve greenhouse environmental performance.
For more information on the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation or registering your operation under the NMA, contact the Agricultural Information Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about compliance with the GNF Regulation, the OWRA, the EPA, and other options for disposing of GNF, visit the MOECC Environmental approvals web page, or call 1-800-565-4923.
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300