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Dr. Poonam Singh stands just to the right of the centre of the photo with green plants in the background and foreground. She is wearing a blue t-shirt and holds a hose that is watering the plants in front of her.

Poonam Singh BSc, MSc, PhD

Biography

Poonam Singh

Dr. Poonam Singh’s primary research interests encompass the development of sustainable technologies for greenhouse-based production of horticultural crops with a focus on the development/assessment of innovative soilless media and substrates, rootzone management of greenhouse crops, hydroponic crop systems, controlled environment agriculture, and the study of horticultural crop physiology.

With a proven ability to lead both national and international research and development projects in the industry, Dr. Singh is dedicated to promoting sustainable practices and optimizing resource efficiency on horticultural farms; her goal is to contribute to the promotion of environmentally conscious agriculture. Dr. Singh’s strategic vision is characterized by a comprehensive perspective that addresses not only the immediate objectives of individual projects but a more extensive mission to contribute to the progressive evolution of the horticultural landscape. Through her scholarly pursuits, she strives to cultivate a culture of innovation, fostering forward-thinking across all aspects of research and development. Dr. Singh’s dedication to contributing meaningful insights is evidenced by a substantial track record of published research papers in esteemed academic journals, complemented by the honor of receiving numerous prestigious grants from various public and private funding agencies and industry-focused groups.

Dr. Singh has been actively involved in advising, mentoring, and guiding students toward academic excellence throughout her professional journey. Dr. Singh plays an active role in numerous academic and research committees. She contributes her expertise as an advisory board member and examiner for post-graduate research studies across multiple universities. Additionally, she serves as a reviewer for various academic journals and grant applications.

Research Focus
  • Sustainable Greenhouse Crop Production
  • Soilless Growing Media Applications
  • Hydroponic Crop Cultures
  • Horticultural Crop Physiology
  • Vertical Farming
  • Sustainable Horticulture
  • Greenhouse Cultivation

Most Significant Contributions:

  • (2021): Developed molecular diagnostic tools for early detection of onion neck rot disease in Manitoba.
    • Identified the Botrytis species through microbiological and molecular techniques. This project provided Manitoba onion producers with critical information on the early incidence and prevalence of Botrytis neck rot pathogens under field conditions.
    • Practical Application: This knowledge about the timing of infection in the field will be useful in helping farmers to develop and evaluate management strategies in the field, and also predict the storability and availability of quality bulbs for sale.
  • (2021): Evaluated onion germplasm for susceptibility to onion neck rot disease.
    • Identified correlations between genetics, the environment, and onion neck rot disease prevalence in Manitoba. Compared the direct seeding versus transplanting methods for onion growth and yield parameters. This project compared methods of planting onions through direct seeding and transplanting seedlings for maximizing bulb yields and maintaining bulb quality in long-term storage. Results revealed that transplanting seedlings in the field produced significantly higher yield (total and marketable), and larger, heavier, firmer, and uniform bulbs as compared to the direct seeding method of planting.
    • Practical Application: The study provides information to prairie growers of Manitoba regarding best varieties and management practices to achieve higher bulb yields and quality while minimizing post-harvest losses in the storage.
  • (2021): Determined the response of cucumber to the oxygen-enriched nutrient solution under different greenhouse environments.
    • For this project, a study was performed to determine the effects of supplemental oxygen on hydroponically grown cucumber plants under two different greenhouse environments – a high technology greenhouse, and a solar greenhouse. The solar greenhouse produced a lower cucumber yield than high technology greenhouses, and the fruits from solar greenhouse also had a lower shelf life. The oxygen enrichment of nutrient solution improved the postharvest quality of cucumbers in both the greenhouse environments.
    • Practical Application: This study provides recommendations to greenhouse vegetable growers to supplement rootzone oxygen to boost growth, yield and post-harvest quality of crops.
  • (2021): Assessed the efficacy and compatibility of biological pest agents in the floricultural greenhouses.
    • Developed a customized integrated pest management program using biological pest control agents at a commercial greenhouse in Manitoba. Within this project, many different combinations of biocontrol agents were tried at the Shelmerdine Garden Center, Manitoba. Researchers found that the combinations of tried biocontrol agents worked well together without interfering with one another to reduce efficiency.
    • Practical Application: This information has the potential to be of great value to floricultural greenhouse growers in Canada and elsewhere in the world where climatic conditions similar to Canadian prairies prevail. The success of this program will encourage other greenhouses to grow their crops using more sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Furthermore, the present study is anticipated to create possibilities for growing food in the greenhouses for remote and isolated communities of the north, where food insecurity is extremely high.
  • (2020): Established a garden for the conservation of traditional crops with cultural significance to indigenous people of Canada.
    • Compared different methods of propagation (sexual and asexual) of the native species of Manitoba under in vivo conditions. Assiniboine Community College’s traditional Indigenous plant garden began in 2015 as a small project to enable students to identify native plants. Since then, the garden has taken on a wider community significance, while also increasing in its footprint and plant diversity. This traditional Indigenous plant garden is a multidimensional platform that allows for celebration and conservation of plants – in order to contribute to local, traditional food sovereignty efforts.
    • Practical Application: The garden has grown, and continues to grow into an initiative that serves the broader College and local communities more often – through growing, workshops, developing plant production protocols, teaching, demonstrations, plant identification seminars, and technology testing.
Projects

Ongoing Projects:

  • Exploring sustainable growing media alternatives as a peat replacement in ornamental crop production.
  • Evaluating onion germplasm for susceptibility to onion neck rot disease, and identifying correlations between genetics, the environment, and disease prevalence.
  • Enhancing Hydroponic Crop Production in the Manitoba Parkland, in partnership with Vermillion Growers, Dauphin MB.
    • This study examined the response of horticulture plants to oxygen-enriched nutrient solution under different greenhouse environments-high technology and solar greenhouses. The roots and microbes of plants can exhaust oxygen to hypoxic (low) or anoxic (no oxygen) levels in hydroponic cultures. Supplemental oxygen in the root zone accelerates water and fertilizer absorption by the plants, increasing plant biomass, crop yield and fruit shelf life. Greenhouse design results in microclimates and the plants respond differently to these environments. Results showed the solar greenhouse produced a lower crop yield than high technology greenhouses and fruits produced in the solar greenhouse also had a lower shelf life. The oxygen enrichment of nutrient solution improved post-harvest quality of fruit in both the greenhouse environments.

Extension:

  • Knowledge transfer events organized/attended (last 5 years):
    • Keynote speaker at upcoming ‘Grow 2023’ conference by MB Landscape and Nursery Association (Februaury 8, 2023); Speaker at seminar series Brandon University (Nov. 22, 2022); Speaker at the webinar entitled ‘Hydroponic cultivation of vegetables’ in collaboration of Manitoba Agriculture, MB (March 24, 2021); Speaker at the Westman Garden Club, Brandon, MB (March 3, 2021), and Carman Garden Club, Carman, MB (February 23, 2021); Speaker for the webinar entitled 'Art and Science: A converging world' organized by Mentoring Artists for Women's Art, Winnipeg, MB (November 17, 2020); Speaker, Vegetable Growers Association of Manitoba - Annual General Meeting, Carman, MB (February 12, 2019; February 26, 2020); Speaker, Direct Farms Marketing Conference, Winnipeg, MB (February 8, 2019); Keynote Speaker, Agritex India 2018 Conference and Exhibition, Hyderabad, India (October 4-6, 2018); Organized various workshops for Brandon Community Garden Network members, Dakota College Horticulture Instructors and indigenous groups, students from various schools in the Brandon School Division, MB (2015-2019).
  • Media (TV/Radio/Magazines) appearances (last 5 years):
    • TV talks: Riley L. 2018. Brandon researcher's 'good bugs' set to battle 'bad bugs' at garden centre. CBC News, June 12, 2018; Brar, D. 2018. Sustainability in Agriculture. Diljit Brar Show, Hulchul TV, Winnipeg, December 20, 2018; Hendricks, J. 2018. Bugs battle to save flowers and plants CTV News, June 15, 2016
    • Magazines: Drew, M. 2022. Backyard gardening improves homes, fights inflation woes. Brandon Sun, April 28, 2022; Manitoba Co-operator, 2021. Researcher digging up sustainable growing medium for bedding plants. December 30, 2021; Manitoba Co-operator, 2018. It’s a bug-eat-bug world, says Assiniboine faculty member. July 26, 2018.
Courses Taught
  • Food Safety and Security AGRC-0283
  • Food Security and Sustainability AGRC-0284
  • Food Systems Applied Research AGRC-0274
  • Growing Media AGRC-0258
  • Growing Media Applications AGRC-0276
  • Horticulture Industry AGRC-0285
  • Horticulture Science SCIE-0074
  • Nursery and Ornamental Horticulture AGRC-0286
  • Practicum - STFDS PRAC-0263
  • The Food Industry AGRC-0288
Recent Publications

Research papers in peer-reviewed journals:

  • Singh, P., Rao, S., Bisht, V., and Gonsalves, T. (2023). Direct-seeded versus transplanted onions: Varietal Performance in Canadian Prairies. International Journal of Vegetable Science (under review).
  • Singh, P. and Rao, S. (2023). Effect of curing methods on Botrytis neck rot disease of onions in the Canadian prairies. Acta Horticulturae. (in press).
  • Singh, P. (2023). Can cattail fibers effectively replace peat in soilless growing media? Acta Horticulturae. (accepted for publication).
  • Rao, S., and Singh, P. (2023). Passive Solar Greenhouse-A sustainable option for propagating sweet potato for colder climatic regions. Sustainable Agriculture Research (accepted for publication).
  • Rao, SA, Hendricks, B., Gray, A., and Singh, P. (2023). Culinary Treatments Affect Sensory Attributes an9d Consumer Preference for Sweet Potato Cultivars. Journal of Food Research 12(1): 2023
  • Rao, SA, Singh, P and Gonsalves, T. (2022) Black plastic mulch affects soil temperature and yield of sweet potato under short season temperate climates, International Journal of Vegetable Science 29 (1): 72-83.
  • Singh, P., Ahmad, F., Bisht, V., Thakkar, N., Sajjad, S. (2021). Early detection of onion neck rot disease in Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 00: 1-14
  • Singh, P. (2021). Propagation of 14 prairie native forbs by sexual and asexual methods. Native Plants Journal 22(3):345–354.
  • Singh, P., and Nykolyshyn, T. (2021). Biocontrol in practice in northern floricultural greenhouses. Ornamental Horticulture Journal. 27 (4): 544-555.
  • Singh, P. (2021). Response of cucumber plants to oxygen-enriched nutrient solution under different greenhouse environments. Acta Horticulturae. 1317, 47-54.
  • Singh, P. and Whibbs, R. (2021). A College’s Traditional Indigenous Plant Garden as Third Space. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue canadienne des études sur l alimentation (under review).
  • Rao, S.A., Mintenko, A., Abbey, L. and Singh, P. (2020). Wintering index and yield traits for early, mid and late season strawberry for colder climates. International Journal of Fruit Science. 20 (2), 151-158.

Papers presented in conferences/symposia:

  • Singh, P. (2023). Can cattail fibers effectively replace peat in soilless growing media? Paper presented at 4th Asian Horticulture Congress, Tokyo, Japan, August 28-31, 2023.
  • Singh, P. and Rao, S. (2022). Effect of curing methods on Botrytis neck rot disease of onions in the Canadian prairies. Paper presented at VIII International Symposium on Edible Alliums, Pula, Croatia, May 23-25, 2022.
  • Singh, P. (2021). Response of cucumber plants to oxygen-enriched nutrient solution under different greenhouse environments. Paper presented at II International Symposium on Growing Media, Soilless Cultivation, and Compost Utilization in Horticulture, Belgium, Aug. 22-27, 2021.
  • Singh, P., Bisht, V. and Gonsalves, T. (2021). Direct-seeded versus transplanted onions: Varietal Performance in Canadian Prairies. Paper presented at the Annual General Conference of the American Society of Horticulture Science, Denver, Colorado, USA, Aug. 5-7, 2021.
  • Singh, P. and Whibbs, R. (2020). In the Garden of the Ancestors: Preserving Traditional Indigenous Medicines and Culinary Plants in a College Garden. Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Indigenous Knowledge Symposium: Indigenous Plant Sovereignty, Queens University, ON, Canada. Nov. 6-7, 2020.
  • Singh, P. (2018). Advanced crop production systems-a key to sustainable and productive agriculture. Key Note speech presented at Agritex India 2018 Conference and Exhibition, Hyderabad, India, Oct.4-6, 2018
  • Singh, P., Deng, A. and Hinrichs, S. (2017). Managing western flower thrips by the use of biocontrol agents in conventional and solar greenhouses. Paper presented in the 8th World Congress on Agriculture & Horticulture held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, March 2-3, 2017.
  • Hinrichs, S, Deng, A, Singh, P. and Rao, S. (2016). Establishing Biological Pest Control Systems for Managing Greenhouse Pests. Paper presented in Colleges and Institutes Canada Applied Research Symposium held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, March 6-8, 2016.

Presentations:

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover: 360-degree approach of growing horticultural crops in sustainable growing media. Grow23 - A Manitoba Nursery Lanscape Association Event, Feb. 8, 2023.
  • “Hydroponic Basics and Techniques” presentation to faculty, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. students of Department of Landscaping and Floriculture, Department of Vegetable Science, and Department of Soil Water Engineering, Punjab Agricultural University on March 10th, 2022.
  • Third Age Learning Cooperative. Seminar-Sustainability in Horticulture. Jan 7, 2022.
  • University of Manitoba Entomology Speaker Series. Nov. 23, 2021.
  • Sustainable Greenhouse Horticulture: Solution for a healthy future. Brandon University Seminar Series, Nov. 22 and 29, 2022.
  • Manitoba Agriculture, MB webinar-Hydroponic cultivation of vegetables, March 24, 2021

Extension Articles:

  • Singh, P. (2023). Sustainability of Growing Media-Using waste-stream products for horticultural crop production. Manitoba Nursery and Landscape Association. Winter Newsletter, 2023
  • Singh, P. (2023). Cash in the Ash. MB Master Gardener Association Newsletter, January, 2023
  • Singh, P. (2022). Someone’s trash is someone’s treasure-Using industrial waste/by-products as sustainable growing media for horticultural crops. MB Master Gardener Association Newsletter, May 2022
Research grants
  • 2023-24: Exploring new sustainable growing media for horticultural crop production. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • 2023-24: Analysis of Plant Growth and Nutritional Quality in an Aquaponic System. National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • 2023-24: Characterization of the biocarbon-substituted soilless growing media. National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • 2023-2024: Examining Operational Parameters of Modular Freight Container Farms for Leafy Greens Production. National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • 2023-24: Biochar: A Promising Substitute for Peat in Soilless Growing Media. National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • 2023-24: Baseline Chemical and Physical Assessments of Typha as a Potential Soilless Growing Media Amendment. National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • 2022-23: Sustainable Substrates: A Study on their Applicability in Ornamental Crop Cultivation. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
  • 2022-23: The 4Rs: Growing horticultural crops in sustainable growing media. AAFC-AgriRisk Initiatives program, Microgrants Stream
  • 2021-2022: Exploring new sustainable growing media for ornamental crop production. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
  • 2021: Eco-craft Project. A collaboration between Scientists and Artists. Manitoba Craft Council, MB.
  • 2020-2022: Building applied research capacity to support Manitoba agriculture, innovation, and sustainability. NSERC, Canada.
  • 2019: Onion neck rot disease prevalence studies in Manitoba’. Employment and Social Development Canada.
  • 2018-2023: Assiniboine Community College Field to Fork Project, Canadian Agricultural Partnership Grant, a Federal-Provincial initiative, Govt. of Canada.
  • 2018: Establishing a biological pest management program for nursery crop production. NSERC, Canada.
  • 2018: Knowledge Dissemination Travel Grant, Assiniboine Community College Applied Research Fund, Manitoba, Canada.
  • 2017-2018: Establishing a Community Plant Germplasm Conservatory. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
  • 2016: Developing herbarium of traditionally important plants for awareness and educational purposes. Employment and Social Development Canada.
  • 2015-2018: Canada-Manitoba Growing Forward 2- Growing Innovation - Capacity and Knowledge Development Program, a Federal-Provincial initiative, Govt. of Canada.
  • 2014: Plant breeding for organic farming systems: A collaborative approach to sustainability. Shastri Partnership Seed Grant project funded by the Shastri Indo Canadian Institute, Canada.
  • 2013: Initiation of a germplasm bank for selected plants with potential to be new crops for BC agriculture-A pilot project. Investment Agriculture Council of British Columbia, Canada.
  • 2013-2014: A new biofertilizer using insect frass and chitin Phase I. NSERC, Canada.
  • 2002-2011: All India Coordinated Research Project on Floriculture-Indian Council of Agricultural Research: Coordinated numerous projects on production and breeding of rose, chrysanthemum, and gladiolus crops.
Memberships

Reviewer:

  • Journal of Horticulture, Haryana, India
  • NSERC, Canada

Member:

  • Manitoba Institute of Agrologists, MB
  • Vegetable Growers Association of Manitoba, MB
  • Prairie Fruit Growers Association, MB
  • Lower Mainland Horticultural Improvement Association, BC
  • International Society of Arboriculture, USA
  • Indian Science Congress Association, India
  • Punjab Academy of Science, India
  • Indian Society of Ornamental Horticulture, New Delhi
  • Indian Society of Horticulture, New Delhi
  • Asian Society of Horticulture, India
  • Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, India
  • Society for Promotion of Horticulture, Bangalore, India
Awards & Honours
Dr. Poonam Singh standing on the WMCA stage, posing with a glass award during the "Women of Distinction" awards gala on March 9th, 2023.
  • Women of Distinction Award - Science, Technology and Trade by Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) (2023)
  • 2020-2021: Teaching Excellence Stellar Award by ACC in recognition of demonstrable success in teaching through COVID-19 pandemic years.
  • 2020: Excellence in Teaching Award by ACC for extraordinary contributions to student excellence.
  • 2019: RAVE Award by ACC for being a dedicated and passionate researcher.
  • 2009: Desh Sewa Rattan Award for contributions to the field of teaching and research in horticulture by Punjab State Sikh Committee, India.
  • 2007: Young Scientist Award by the Punjab Academy of Sciences, India
  • 2007: Best Paper Presentation Award by the Punjab Academy of Sciences, India
  • 2006: Best Paper Presentation Awards by the Indian Science Congress Association, India
  • 2003: Best Scientific Essay Award by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India
  • 1999-2002: Senior Research Fellowship Award by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, India
  • Women of Distinction Award - Science, Technology and Trade by Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) (2023)
  • 2020-2021: Teaching Excellence Stellar Award by ACC in recognition of demonstrable success in teaching through COVID-19 pandemic years.
  • 2020: Excellence in Teaching Award by ACC for extraordinary contributions to student excellence.
  • 2019: RAVE Award by ACC for being a dedicated and passionate researcher.
  • 2009: Desh Sewa Rattan Award for contributions to the field of teaching and research in horticulture by Punjab State Sikh Committee, India.
  • 2007: Young Scientist Award by the Punjab Academy of Sciences, India
  • 2007: Best Paper Presentation Award by the Punjab Academy of Sciences, India
  • 2006: Best Paper Presentation Awards by the Indian Science Congress Association, India
  • 2003: Best Scientific Essay Award by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India
  • 1999-2002: Senior Research Fellowship Award by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, India

CONTACT INFO:

Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts
Assiniboine College
1035, 1st Street North, Brandon, MB R7A 2Y1
Room 117
singhp@assiniboine.net