Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

CAN (ON): Weston Family funded projects sees flourishing results from Innovation project

Berries are being grown inside a unique tunnel north of London and if the system that utilizes solar energy, lights, heat pumps and water pumps works, it will cheat Canadian winters and climate change and undercut the price of imported fruits and vegetables, said Joshua Pearce, a Western University electrical engineering professor.

For the last year, the berries have been growing in a vertical farm or "agrotunnel". The agrotunnel was built by Food Security Structures Canada, a Métis-led company explaining the structure can be based above ground or buried. The Western-led project at the university's Environmental Sciences Western Field Station on Wonderland Road near Ilderton combines solar panels on an outdoor farm with the indoor agrotunnel.

The tunnel uses agrovoltaics to power the LED lights and water and heat pumps used to heat and cool the tunnel's interior, reducing energy demand and costs. A $1-million grant from the Homegrown Innovation Challenge – an initiative of the Weston Family Foundation aimed at seeing teams develop innovations to transform food production – is paying the bills. Eleven teams are designing small-scale tests to be evaluated by judges in January 2025.

Crops receive water with nutrients through pumps twice a day and sprout on the tunnel's 2.4-metre walls. The technology is ready for prime time, but costs need to come down to convince farmers to invest. "What solar does is (let) you know exactly what your electricity costs will be. They don't escalate like (other) energy prices, because you essentially are buying your electricity up front with the panel. Every week in the agrotunnel, harvest season is upon us, and the future of Canadian farming is ripe with possibility," Pearce said.

Source: LF Press

Publication date: