The vision of AgNorth is to develop scalable modular farm stations (high efficiency modular food production systems) that will be able to grow a full complement of nutritional foods and provide economic development opportunities and food security in remote and isolated communities of the NWT. Originally developed for space exploration, the farm station technology is well suited to conditions in Canada’s north, where extreme temperatures and extended periods of low light make traditional or even greenhouse agriculture impossible.
With funding from CanNor and ITI, ARI is working with Dr. Al Scott at COM DEV Canada and Dr. Mike Dixon from the Guelph Controlled Environment Research Facility at the University of Guelph to assess the market and technological considerations of applying this technology in the NWT. This work will include a market study and development of business model and production plan. Technological considerations will also be evaluated, and a prototype design will be developed based on market findings.
The most challenging and costly seasons for production and distribution of food in the north are those when sunlight is limited. Conventional greenhouse technologies are not feasible for much of the year. What makes the farm station technology unique and so efficient in food production is the use of programmable LEDs, which are specially designed to enhance plant photosynthesis. This makes them much more efficient than natural lighting or broadband illumination. Farm stations would also make use of emerging hydroponics technologies, using sensors to recycle nutrients in the waste effluent. The use of these technologies will create the most volume- and energy-efficient food production system in the world.
Not only would a successful AgNorth program improve food security, lower food costs, improve community health and reduce our food’s carbon footprint, it would create businesses, skills and jobs that will develop economic opportunities for communities and aboriginal peoples across the NWT.
AgNorth Project Reports