Season 2 | Episode 1: Insights from Spannabis & Beyond

Season 2 | Episode 1: Insights from Spannabis & Beyond

Podcast: Season 2 | Episode 1

Summary:

  • Spannabis Experience: Anders shared his personal experience at Spannabis, highlighting the vibrant social club scene in Barcelona and the excitement around cannabis culture and legalization. They particularly enjoyed the hash scene, with notable mention of Piatella Hash and its unique curing process.
  • International Travel and Awareness of Pipp Horticulture: Anders discussed his surprise at the international recognition of Pipp, indicating that many attendees were familiar with the brand. They also mentioned their upcoming presence at events in Europe, inviting cultivators to engage with them.
  • Concerns about Pathogen Spread Through Seeds: There was a discussion about the spread of pathogens and viruses through seeds, emphasizing the importance of responsible breeding practices and testing to prevent the transmission of diseases.
  • Quality of Exhibits at Spannabis: The conversation touched on the impressive quality of exhibits at Spannabis, noting the elaborate and stylish booths, which reflected the sophistication of the European cannabis industry.
  • Comparison with Other Cannabis Events: Anders and Michael compared Spannabis to other cannabis events like MJBizCon and Canna Fest, highlighting differences in atmosphere, attendee engagement, and the quality of conversations with growers.
  • Upcoming Events and Engaging with Pipp Horticulture: Michael and Anders discussed their plans to attend upcoming events in Europe and encouraged listeners to engage with them at these events, promising informative discussions about cannabis cultivation.

If you are a grower looking to optimize your cultivation facility or anyone looking to cultivate more in less space, then this is the show for you. Each week, join Host Michael Williamson as he travels across the country, to explore the world of vertical farming and the future of cannabis and food production through his conversations with leading industry operators, growers and executives who are demonstrating success and resilience as growers and cultivators. Each episode provides stories and key insights that will inspire and show you first-hand, how each of these companies have overcome challenges, and found their own path to success.

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[CHECKLIST] 10 Safety Tips in the Grow Room

[CHECKLIST] 10 Safety Tips in the Grow Room

Pipp Horticulture at Candre

Grow Room Safety Is Key

The indoor cannabis cultivation environment is an exciting place, one brimming with life and growth. You’ve no doubt hired a supremely talented team to run the operation, but general reminders about grow room safety are always welcome.  We have compiled 10 simple but essential tips for maintaining high safety standards in your grow rooms. These tips are meant to be regularly applied, as safety is an ongoing process. Encourage your team to consistently review and adhere to the safety protocols for your grow room.

1. Check Your PPE on a Regular Basis

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects employees from exposure to hazardous substances, plant allergens, and other physical injuries. PPE may include items such as scrubs, Tyvek suits, gloves, hair nets, beard nets, shoe covers, protective clear glasses, and masks. 

Regular PPE inspection checks and immediate replacement of worn, compromised, or damaged PPE are vital to maintain high safety standards. Doing so will ensure that workers are adequately protected against potential risks from fine plant particulate matter. In addition to protecting employees, PPE, when used correctly, can reduce the risk of spreading biological contaminants, pests, and diseases.

The correct use of PPE not only complies with health and safety regulations but also fosters a culture of safety and sanitation within the workplace. Creating a culture with a strong foundation in safety is critical for any operation.

▢ Conduct regular PPE checks and replace any worn, compromised, or damaged equipment immediately.

Cannabis Cultivators Using ELEVATE by Pipp to Access 2nd Level Multi-Tier Racks

2. Understand Stability with Mobile Racking

Mobile racks and multi-tier cultivation have been accepted by most commercial cultivators as they allow cultivators to maximize the total canopy of any given room compared to single-tier cultivation. Any time an employee is working off the ground, whether it be on a ladder, platform, or lift, it is important to be properly trained and mindful of all associated safety protocols set in place by the company.

Staff training is important to prevent unnecessary injury, even on something as routine as moving mobile racks back and forth within the grow room. It is important to always visually inspect the top and bottom of the open mobile aisle before moving any racks to ensure it is free of any employees who may be working in the aisle. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for employees to work below the canopy on rolling stools, squatting, or sitting on a bucket, and they may be hidden from plain sight if looking for heads above the canopy. ***Pro Tip – Use magnetic high visibility flags that can be easily attached to the end of the racks to indicate workers are present. 

Make sure that employees understand how to engage locking mechanisms on all mobile racking units when not in use to prevent unintended movement. Mobile racks are available with an Anti-Tip Track, as well, which is required in seismic zones. Employees should never climb up on racks or trays. 

Implement a checklist for periodic safety checks of your mobile racks’ wheels, tracks, and locks.

Two Level Grow Benches by Pipp Horticulture at Freedom Green

3. Understand Weight Distribution and Load Capacity

On a similar note, make sure employees understand and adhere to the weight limits of the platform cat-walks and the racking system, as it is crucial to prevent employee injury and/or damage to the equipment.

Regular inspections should be conducted to ensure that racks are not overloaded and that employees are using the equipment correctly and safely. After any employee safety education training, ensure employees thoroughly understand the training through exercises such as tests and/or “train-the-trainer.” Once the training is completed and the employee has passed any tests, it is important to have the trainer and employees both sign their names on a training document that acknowledges that the employee understands the training and the risk when safety procedures are not adhered to. 

Pro Tip: Safety training is not a one-time event. Employees should be re-trained annually or even more frequently if unsafe work is observed. 

Document all safety training. Ensure employees are adequately trained, tested, and have signed off on receiving and understanding the training. 

Label your racking units with maximum load capacity.

4. Monitor Your Electrical Connections with Thermal Imaging

 

Given the extensive use of electrical equipment in cannabis cultivation, electrical safety is important to prevent fires, shocks, and equipment failures. Proactive inspections help identify potential hazards early. This protocol helps maintain electrical systems safely and efficiently. 

Lights can overheat if not properly installed or if the electrical infrastructure is overloaded. Implementing monthly inspections allows for the early identification of potential hazards, such as frayed wires, loose connections, or overloaded circuits, which are common issues that can lead to serious accidents. 

During these inspections, use a thermal imaging camera to detect hot spots invisible to the naked eye, indicative of electrical overload or failing components. This proactive approach minimizes downtime and protects both the workforce and the investment in cultivation infrastructure.

Perform monthly inspections of all electrical equipment and wiring, looking for signs of wear or damage.

5. Develop a Chemical Storage Protocol

Proper chemical storage and handling are essential to prevent spills, contamination, and exposure to toxic substances. Establishing a clear protocol, including a spill response plan, and reviewing it regularly with the team minimize the risk of accidents. All flammable chemicals should be clearly labeled and stored in an approved lockable flammable cabinet. All pesticides and fungicides should be stored in a dedicated and lockable cabinet and be separate from any cleaning and/or sanitation chemicals. Isopropyl alcohol spray bottles and bleach spray bottles are commonly used across cultivation facilities. These spray bottles should be clearly labeled with the date, chemical name, and any dilution ratio.

Create a chemical storage and handling protocol, including a spill response plan, and review it with the team quarterly.

Cannabis Growers Using Pipp Horticulture at Culta

6. Stretch! (Seriously)

Consider a 5-10 minute group stretch at the start of each shift. Ergonomic practices like stretching help prevent injuries common in cultivation tasks that involve repetitive motions, bending, lifting, and prolonged standing. This is also a great opportunity to communicate any important information to the employees about priorities, goals, challenges, or issues to be aware of. 

This simple yet effective routine can significantly reduce the incidence of work-related discomfort and injuries, enhancing productivity and employee satisfaction. It can also be a simple way to add some fun team-building to each day’s work.

Stretching can also elevate team morale. The high demand and repetitive nature of cannabis cultivation can place significant stress on employees, potentially impacting their mental health, morale, and productivity. Establishing a supportive workplace culture through simple activities that encourage a pause in the workday hustle can also prevent burnout in addition to enhancing team morale.

To reduce the risk of injuries, implement a 5-10 minute group stretch for the team at the start of each shift.

Mobile Grow Racks by Pipp at Culta

7. Prepare for Emergencies

You never know what can happen in a dynamic environment like an indoor cultivation facility. 

Conducting emergency response drills, including fire evacuation and first-aid scenarios, is critical to ensure staff are prepared for any potential emergencies. 

These drills, ideally held twice a year, help familiarize the team with emergency procedures, improving the speed and effectiveness of the response to actual incidents, thereby minimizing potential injuries and damage.

If employees are allowed to wear headphones or earbuds during their shift, it is important to implement a one-ear-only rule, which allows employees to keep one ear free of any music, podcasts, etc., so that in the event of an alarm, they can hear it and react quickly. Some cultivation rooms can be very loud from HVAC and other noisy equipment; it is important to have not only audible alarms but also visual alarms like strobes that can help make employees aware there is an issue. Walkie-talkies are a helpful and economical tool for prompt communications on a daily basis, but especially during an emergency.

You can also get more specific with these trainings down to the individual level. Conducting regular first aid training and emergency response drills empowers employees to act quickly and effectively in case of accidents, injuries, or health emergencies. Having a well-trained team can make a critical difference in minimizing the impact of such events, making this an essential component of any safety program. Making first aid kits easily accessible throughout the cultivation facility and ensuring that all employees know how to use them is also crucial.

Hold emergency response drills twice a year, and make sure your first aid kits are well stocked and easily accessible.

8. Place Sanitation at the Heart of Your SOPs

Daily end-of-shift cleaning routines for all tools and workspaces are essential for preventing the spread of pests and diseases within the cultivation facility. This might seem obvious, but it helps to put those routines on paper and communicate them clearly to all team members. This regular sanitation practice maintains a clean and safe environment for plants and people alike. It’s also a good habit-forming practice, which can encourage greater awareness of safety precautions throughout the rest of the facility. 

Establish daily end-of-shift cleaning routines for all tools and workspaces to maintain a hygienic environment.

9. Ramp Up Security

Regular audits of access control systems ensure that only authorized personnel can enter sensitive cultivation areas. This practice will safeguard against theft, contamination, and unauthorized entry. 

Rigorous security measures maintain the integrity of the cultivation process while protecting valuable genetic material and preventing diversion.

Audit access control systems quarterly to ensure only authorized personnel can enter cultivation areas.

Multi-Tier Grow Racks by Pipp Horticulture at Culta

10. Communicate With Your Team

Monthly safety and operations training sessions keep the team informed about the latest cultivation techniques, safety protocols, and regulatory compliance. Although those topics may not change monthly, each one involves a great deal of detail. Minor aspects of safety protocols or regulatory language can be overlooked as time goes on, so frequent communication is important to keep them top-of-mind.

Ongoing education empowers employees with the knowledge and skills to perform their tasks efficiently and safely. This fosters a proactive and safe workplace culture for all. 

▢ Organize monthly safety and operations training sessions to keep the team updated on best practices and safety protocols.

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4 Strategies for Even Light Distribution in Vertical Grows

4 Strategies for Even Light Distribution in Vertical Grows

Pipp Horticulture at Culta

The Right Lights for Your Grow

Any cultivation business’s expansion into vertical farming is a complex challenge. One of the main goals is to achieve optimal light distribution on each level of the grow. 

We  are here to address the interplay between light physics, plant physiology, and technological innovations. Those elements work together to deliver light to the tiers in your grow room, and it’s on your team to ensure that the light falls evenly and helps all plants grow as healthy as possible. 

Before we get going, is your business considering an expansion to a vertical environment within your facility? We’ve got helpful tips for building out a multi-tier grow

Light Physics in Plant Growth

Pipp Horticulture at CultaThe Inverse Square Law

At the heart of understanding light distribution lies the inverse square law, which says that light intensity decreases proportionally to the square of the distance from the light source. This means that light gets weaker the farther it travels from the source, and this weakening happens faster than you might expect.  This principle is important to understand in vertical grow environments. In vertical rooms, the variance in distance between light sources and plant canopies across tiers can lead to significant disparities in the actual amount of light received by plants. The measurement here is photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), which conveys how much light that’s actually used for photosynthesis is hitting a given square meter of space every second. You want an even PPFD across your room.  Growers can and should use mathematical modeling to predict intensity falloff and adjust light placement and intensity accordingly, ensuring more uniform PPFD across all tiers.

Light Intensity and Canopy Dynamics

Diving deeper, the Beer-Lambert Law provides a framework for understanding how light is absorbed and scattered within the plant canopy.  This absorption, influenced by the actual number of leaves on a plant, significantly affects the light available to lower canopy levels. By trimming and shaping the plants, you can make sure light reaches all levels, especially in tight, vertical growing spaces. Watch your plant’s leaf area especially up top, closer to the light source.

Lighting Technologies for Precision Cultivation

Pipp Horticulture at CultaTailoring Spectra with LEDs

The rise and advancement of LED technology has allowed growers to focus on precision in the garden. LEDs let growers manipulate light spectra to influence plant growth and development. 

By adjusting the spectral output, growers can elicit specific plant responses, optimizing growth rates, morphology, and secondary metabolite production (think THC, for instance, or a terpene like myrcene). Implementing LEDs with adjustable spectrum capabilities allows for dynamic light management tailored to different growth stages or specific plant strains.

Pulsed Lighting: How to Enhance Photosynthesis Without Adding Thermal Stress

Pulsed lighting has the potential to increase photosynthetic efficiency by delivering high-intensity light in short bursts, reducing thermal stress on plants. 

This technique, based on the understanding of photosynthetic saturation points and non-photochemical quenching, can be particularly beneficial in vertical setups where managing heat accumulation is a challenge. Consider running a trial on pulsed lighting with an R&D crop.

Architectural Design and Cultivation Techniques

Pipp Horticulture at CultaOptimizing Vertical Rack Design

The structural design of vertical racks should facilitate spatial efficiency and optimal light exposure. Both goals should be top-of-mind when implementing a new racking system.  Incorporating inter-reflective materials and strategic geometry can amplify light reach and uniformity. Choosing materials that scatter light instead of reflecting it directly can prevent bright spots and make sure light is spread out more evenly. Consider matte white paint, white plastic, or fabrics, and foils designed for grow rooms; these materials help bounce light around the grow space more evenly than shiny, mirror-like surfaces.

Advanced Canopy Management for Uniform Light Absorption

Techniques such as apical pruning, lateral spreading, and the implementation of rotational systems ensure that all plants, regardless of their position, receive adequate light.  Leveraging plant phototropism by periodically adjusting light source positions can promote more uniform growth across the canopy. By doing so, your team makes use of plants’ natural tendency to grow toward light sources, helping them grow evenly. Tune into Cultivation Elevated Episode 17, while host Michael Williamson sits down with Corinne Wilder, VP of Global Commercial Operations at Fluence, to discuss how LED technology has shaped vertical farming.

Integrating Supplemental Lighting and Precision Monitoring

Pipp Horticulture at CultaAddressing the Lower Canopy Challenge

The deployment of side and intracanopy lighting addresses one of the primary challenges in vertical cultivation—ensuring sufficient light reaches the lower tiers. These systems must be carefully calibrated to complement top lighting, avoiding over-saturation and ensuring that light intensity and quality mimic natural conditions as closely as possible.

Harnessing Data for Light Optimization

The implementation of advanced light sensors and environmental control systems enables real-time monitoring and adjustment of light conditions. Data analytics can be used to fine-tune lighting schedules, intensities, and spectra, based on the dynamic needs of the crop and the specific characteristics of the vertical environment.

Navigating the Future of Light Optimization in Vertical Cultivation

As the science of cannabis cultivation evolves, so do the strategies for optimizing light distribution in vertical farming systems. 

The integration of advanced lighting technologies, strategic architectural design, and precise cultivation practices offers a pathway to maximizing yield, efficiency, and product quality in these complex environments. 

Growers equipped with a deep understanding of the scientific principles governing light and plant interactions and a willingness to embrace technological innovations are well-positioned to lead the charge in this new era of cannabis cultivation.

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