Glacier FarmMedia – A quickly growing Canadian tech company is set to expand its agricultural platform, using the power of light to help the industry diversify.
G2V Optics is launching perihelion light systems, and planned to present it at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco on March 17-18, although the summit was cancelled due to concerns with COVID-19 risk.
Why it matters: Growing high value plants takes precision control, especially around lighting.
Perihelion lights mimic the sun and sunlight patterns, said company chief executive officer Ryan Tucker, allowing indoor vertical farms to better grow unconventional food.
“Our customers grow a huge range of high-value food crops, like berries, spicy peppers, spices, cannabis, seedlings and more,” Tucker said. “It’s really a wide range of crops.”
For instance, a company in Calgary uses G2V’s products to grow saffron indoors. G2V is based in Alberta.
Tucker said the technology won’t replace conventional farming. Instead, it complements the industry.
“We’re not trying to grow open-field barley indoors, and we don’t see this replacing traditional agriculture,” he said. “As more technology becomes available, I think this will only enhance the industry.”
Tucker said G2V, which provides lighting systems for other industries, said the company realized its systems could have a positive effect on indoor agriculture. The lights could increase yield, use fewer inputs, and change the nutritional makeup of crops, making them taste better, he said.
“The opportunity there in the technology we had, combined with the rate that agriculture in controlled environments is growing, is an exciting opportunity for us,” he said.
Plants are complex organisms that respond to changing light patterns, especially the colour of light, he said.
“What we’ve done is create a product that can actually evoke some level of control over those enhancements,” Tucker explained. “On our data science and photo-biology side, we’ve gone after the base understanding knowledge of how to control that. Those two really go hand in hand.”
Tucker said he sees these systems as part of the future of agriculture, where conventional and nonconventional farms co-exist.
He said vertical indoor farms will play an important role in addressing food security and sustainability. Environmental groups have long advocated against further deforestation.
As well, vertical farming could reduce supply chain cycles, allowing value-added customers to be closer to the crops, Tucker said.
Some barriers to entry for vertical farms include confusion over permitting, bylaws, supports and financing, Tucker said, but more organizations are stepping up.
This article was originally published at The Western Producer.