In the realm of precision agriculture, NEXTON, a Korean startup, has surfaced as a notable innovator, intertwining meticulous plant infrastructure development and expertise in diverse crop cultivation, notably strawberries. The company has notably differentiated itself by mass-producing using indoor vertical farming technology, utilizing spaces like the Okcheon Tunnel and Nambu Metro underground subway station, and establishing the Taebak Warehouse-typed Strawberry Production Facility.
Transforming Abandoned Spaces into Agricultural Hubs
Established in 2017 by three LED experts from Seoul Semiconductor, NEXTON embarked on a journey to transform abandoned spaces into productive agricultural hubs. The company’s first farm, built in 2020 in the Okcheon Tunnel, an abandoned highway tunnel, was transformed into incubators for high-quality vegetables, strawberries, and bio-crops. NEXTON’s patented LED lighting technology, which replaces sunlight for plants, has been pivotal in stabilizing strawberry production in these unconventional farming locations.
In Taebak City, NEXTON has established the world’s first strawberry indoor farm with the same technology. The vertical farm exclusively for strawberries. The interior height of the 5-story building reaches 12m, and strawberries are grown on 12-tier shelves all year round. Choi Jae-bin, CEO of NEXTON, highlighted, “Vertical farms are essential to practice sustainable agriculture in the era of climate change,” and added, “By applying automation technology to strawberry harvesting and transportation, we are also realizing high-tech industrialization of agriculture.”
NEXTON’s LED light source, optimized for plant growth, along with ICT technology that detects and controls environmental factors for crop cultivation, and a 100% circulating nutrient solution system, showcases a commitment to sustainable and efficient crop production. The system ensures no wastewater emission, energy-saving through the use of new and renewable energy, and reduced installation costs by designing a vertical cultivation line with automated facilities and modularity.
Global Ventures and Strategic Collaborations
In 2023, NEXTON has forged significant partnerships through MoUs with Saudi MISA (Ministry of Investment Saudi Arabia) and PMI KSA (Project Management Institute) and ventured into the Asian market with NEXTON ASIA JV for Urban Strawberry Indoor Farm. Furthermore, NEXTON has made a remarkable stride in Kuwait, planning to build a vertical 6-tier indoor farm plant, measuring approximately 6,600 m2, with an aim to produce approximately 700 kg of Korean strawberries per day.
NEXTON is also peering into the future with intensive phytochemical research aimed at extracting and amplifying bioactive components. The company aims to commercialize these components into various products, including dietary supplements, skin whitening products, and eye-health products, thereby expanding its reach into the health and wellness sector.
NEXTON, with its innovative technologies and strategic global partnerships, is not only reshaping the present agricultural practices but also paving the way for a future where precision agriculture is widespread and efficient.
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