Earlier this May, Invest Alberta met with NEXTON, a Korean agri-tech firm that has taken great initiatives toward shaping the future of farming globally.
Established in 2017, NEXTON specializes in indoor farming solutions, developing a variety of technologies and systems to make indoor cultivation possible. A notable product they have developed are their innovative LED lights, which replace natural sunlight by emitting light at wavelengths suitable to initiate photosynthesis in plants. These LEDs operate at low temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius, which is around 35 degrees less than conventional farming LEDs used today, meaning less costs on temperature regulation measures such as air conditioning.
NEXTON has demonstrated the viability of their indoor cultivation practices in their own backyard. The company generated some notoriety a few years ago for setting up a vertical farm in an abandoned highway tunnel in the Okcheon area, producing a multitude of fruits and vegetables. This facility has been operating since 2017 and has the capability to sustainably produce fruits such as strawberries at low, controlled temperatures.
Indoor farming would have a significant impact in Alberta based on climate alone. The crops that are grown and harvested would not only be cultivated in an environment largely unaffected by Alberta’s drier climate, but one that can be controlled and monitored. By introducing effective indoor farming technologies to the province, Alberta can prepare itself for the future of agriculture, especially when climate change is an evolving issue. These technological innovations will also open the door to a more expansive list of crops that can be grown in Alberta, diversifying the sector in multiple areas.
In the next step towards enhancing Alberta’s indoor cultivation capabilities, NEXTON and Invest Alberta have started collaborating to deliver a commercialized smart farming production facility in Alberta. As part of this ongoing collaboration, Invest Alberta will play a supportive role in NEXTON’s interests in Alberta, primarily through connecting NEXTON with external stakeholders, industry leaders, and post-secondary institutions. These actions will assist NEXTON in their efforts to expand into Alberta and introduce their innovative technologies and agriculture practices to the province, creating job opportunities in Alberta.
The recent MOU signing between NEXTON and Invest Alberta is another example of Alberta’s attractiveness to forward-thinking firms in Asia and across the world.
NEXTON’s model fits into Alberta’s ever- shaping agriculture landscape, which is becoming more technologically integrated as time passes. An estimated $684 million is projected to be spent on digital transformation by Alberta agri-businesses, and companies like NEXTON can support that growth with their innovative and forward-thinking technologies.
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