Lethbridge College and Sunterra Greenhouse have been given a grant of nearly $784,000 from the provincial government’s Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) fund for their research into optimizing greenhouse growing conditions for year-round strawberry and tomato production.
“Supporting local, sustainable food production by empowering research will improve the food we eat, the air we breathe and will bring vital jobs to communities in rural Alberta,” says RDAR research director Clinton Dobson. “This project is a great example of two organizations working together to improve greenhouse yields in Alberta and demonstrate production practices for the growth of Alberta’s greenhouse sector.”Â
The seasonal nature of most greenhouse production in Alberta only allows greenhouses to grow crops during the spring and summer months due to lessening natural light and higher heating costs in the chilly fall and cold winter months.
For many years greenhouse growers in Alberta have complained that due to the seasonal nature of the industry, they are forced to sell their products at a much lower market value than non-seasonal imports from other countries putting them at a competitive disadvantage.
This grant funding begins a long-term research collaboration between Lethbridge College and Sunterra Farms Greenhouses Ltd.,” says Kenny Corscadden, Associate Vice President Research at Lethbridge College. “Together, we recognize the significant opportunity in Alberta for greenhouse-grown fruits and vegetables. There is excellent market potential in our province for both strawberries and tomatoes, and these pre-commercial trials in our Brooks Research and Production Greenhouse with Sunterra will contribute to this growing sector.”Â
Sunterra hopes these trials lead to eventual substantial commercial benefits in the future.
“It’s a good news story; we believe that for Alberta, agriculture is the future and in a lot of ways will be an economic growth driver,” states Sunterra Group president Ray Price.
“We have land, we have energy, we have people, and we have water, and we should be using those to feed not only Albertans but people around the world.
For many growers, the most expensive aspect of indoor cultivation is just keeping the lights on. In order to grow high...