Episode 22: Grow Motion – Dialing in a 3-Tier Flower in Switzerland

Episode 22: Grow Motion – Dialing in a 3-Tier Flower in Switzerland

Episode 22-Grow Motion


In this insightful episode of "Cultivation Elevated," host Michael Williamson sits down with Sia of Grow Motion, to delve into the intricate world of the European cannabis industry. They navigate the complexities of establishing a thriving cannabis enterprise in Switzerland, from crafting a unique brand that resonates with a dedicated community to employing innovative agricultural technologies like the Elevate Platform system.

Sia shares his entrepreneurial journey and the strategic moves that set Grow Motion apart in a competitive market, including exclusive genetics and German partnerships. This conversation not only highlights the challenges of scaling a business and maintaining a strong team spirit but also speculates on the evolving role of Switzerland in the European cannabis landscape and the future of THC legislation. Listeners are invited to join Michael and Sia for an episode that promises to enrich their understanding of the cannabis industry and the meticulous efforts behind Grow Motion's success.

(04:37 Building a Facility in Switzerland

(16:10) CBD and THC Usage Comparison in Europe

(24:19) Cannabis Industry Challenges

(29:00) The Decision to Build Three Tiers

(34:58) Creating a Safety-Focused Elevate Platform System

(39:48 ) GrowMotion's Unique Program Details

(45:57) Switzerland's Cannabis History

(49:38) GrowMotion Goals

"If I start a project, I will never stop anytime. I will finish it. It's important to build a community, to give them the best quality. You cannot build a brand that reaches the top level and then is forgotten after two or three months." - Sia"We have to be different if we want to play the game for the long term. You can't compete on quality alone; it's about creating a unique product that resonates with the community and stands the test of time." - Sia

"In the world of cannabis cultivation, it's about more than just the plant. It's about the people, the passion, and the dedication to create something exceptional. That's what truly makes a difference in this industry." - Michael Williamson

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MJBizCon 2023: New Products, Swag, & More!

MJBizCon 2023: New Products, Swag, & More!

Pipp Horticulture

Prepare to Be Blown Away!

Pipp Horticulture unveils new offerings at this year’s MJBizCon

“The objective was to significantly improve performance while simultaneously reducing material costs”

“We’re eager to showcase what we’ve been working on and share our latest developments and innovations. We continue to develop and refine our products to help cultivators positively affect canopy output while saving time and money by creating a more efficient facility and streamlining operations,” says Del Rockwell, Product Manager at Pipp Horticulture. The company is looking forward to unveiling several new offerings at this year’s MJBizCon. “MJBizCon is always one of the most anticipated events of the year, and this year is no exception. Pipp Horticulture is currently in full preparation mode as we gear up for the show, which is just a few weeks away,” Del says.

According to Del, the show provides the ideal platform for introducing new products, developments, and concepts. “As the Product Manager for Pipp Horticulture, this is my favorite aspect of the show,” he says. “I enjoy witnessing all the new innovations and, most importantly, having the opportunity to debut some of our innovations. This show’s platform allows us to receive immediate feedback on our ideas and concepts while also giving us insight into the developments of others in the industry. To me, it’s like a corporate-level Show ‘n Tell, and I personally love it.”

Pipp Horticulture Team

Mergers and Consolidations

According to Del, this year holds a unique significance due to broader economic trends and specific pressures within the cannabis market. “Cultivators are frequently merging and consolidating, which offers us opportunities to reassess and standardize best practices. As these partnerships mature, we’re discovering the combined value we can provide to growers and consumers alike.”

Over the past eight months, Pipp has harnessed the synergy created by these mergers and consolidations. “We’ve had the opportunity to acquire the assets of Grow Glide, combining two leading suppliers of multi-level mobile cultivation racking in the cannabis industry. This was no small feat, especially considering the high level of competition we both maintained in the industry over the past several years. It’s truly a dream scenario, as we can take the best elements from each company’s product line and culture, blend them together, and deliver something greater than the sum of its parts. Look forward to new and upgraded solutions in the coming year. We have exciting plans for the future!”

New Offerings

This year, there is much to anticipate, Del says. Pipp Horticulture is set to unveil several new offerings to better serve the commercial cannabis cultivation industry. “The most significant launch is the next generation of our In-Rack Air Circulation System, VAS 2.0, which we’ll debut at MJBizCon 2023 booth #33019. Over the past year, we’ve diligently collected feedback on the original system and made significant improvements and enhancements. Our goals were pretty straightforward, but I would not say ‘easy’. The objective was to significantly improve performance while simultaneously reducing material costs. Our newly assembled team employed a quantitative, science-based approach, using CFD and Design of Experiments to iterate quickly and validate our improvements. As a result, we were able to nearly double the recorded airflow, reduce material and installation costs, and enhance the system’s serviceability and cleanability. You might need to turn our fans down!” Del explains.

Pipp is also excited to showcase a variety of additional products and accessories, including:

  • ELEVATE® Platform Outside Aisle Solution: “This solution allows the use of Pipp’s ELEVATE® Platform System throughout the entire room without requiring significant layout changes for existing rooms.”
  • Modular Upright Design: “Introduced last year and now ready for launch and production, our modular uprights provide various direct and indirect advantages to our customers. The adjustable system eliminates interference points between our racking and other systems, such as airflow and irrigation, while significantly improving shipping and logistical efficiencies.”
  • Recessed Bearing Carriage Construction: “A minor visual change to our foundational carriage that yields improvements in system performance, cleanability, serviceability, and corrosion resistance, all of which play a significant role in GMP compliance.”
  • GGS Hybrid Rolling Bench: “Debuted last year as a prototype but now in full production, we’ve continued to refine the system over the past year. This product combines the best aspects of GGS’s tried-and-true rolling bench frame with continuous tray technology with the full range of mobility and rolling performance of the Pipp Carriage system into the ideal solution for single-level systems.”
  • Dispensary Storage Booth #7418: “We will be showcasing our Dispensary Mobile Shelving System in a dedicated space in the Retail Pavilion. These systems are installed in the stockrooms of hundreds of the top retailers worldwide. Our retail dispensary storage systems are designed to store your inventory safely and efficiently without sacrificing crucial floor space. Visit our retail booth #7418 to see these systems in action.”

MJBizCon 2023 is shaping up to be an exciting event for the Pipp Horticulture Team. The company is eager to share their latest developments and innovations with you at booths #33019 and #7418. “The stage is set, and there’s plenty of room for growth. See you at the show!”

*This article was featured on MMJ Daily, click here to view full article.

ELEVATE® Outside Aisle System
VAS Air Circulation System
VAS Air Circulation System

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5 Things US Cannabis Operators Need to Know About GACP & GMP

5 Things US Cannabis Operators Need to Know About GACP & GMP

Pipp Horticulture

Setting the Standard

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) are vital quality assurance standards ensuring product consistency and safety across industries. They prevent errors, safeguard worker health, and protect the public. GMP is essential in pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, and more. This blog explores GMP principles, the absence of GMP guidelines in the US cannabis industry, and how businesses can prepare for future regulatory changes. We’ll also discuss GMP’s influence on architectural design and introduce Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) for medicinal plants, emphasizing GMP’s continuous pursuit of manufacturing excellence.

1. What is GMP?

GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practices, is the quality assurance process in product production that ensures product consistency and quality. GMP guidelines and compliance are critical for quality assurance, worker safety, and protecting human health. GMP prevents errors and inconsistencies that cannot be eliminated through quality control of the finished products and consumer goods. With GMP, it is possible to be sure that every unit of medicine or consumer goods manufactured is of the same quality as the units of medicine tested in the laboratory.

Key Principles of GMP:

  • Creation and enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
  • Comprehensive documentation of all procedures and processes.
  • Validation of SOP effectiveness.
  • Development and implementation of efficient working systems.
  • Development of employee competencies.
  • Regular maintenance of systems, equipment, and facilities.
  • Prioritizing cleanliness to prevent contamination.
  • Ensuring quality is central to the design, development, and manufacturing workflow.

2. Why are there currently no GMP guidelines for cannabis in the United States?

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends guidelines for anything food, cosmetics, drug, or pharmaceutical-related. These guidelines consist of processes, procedures, and documentation that ensure manufacturing consumer goods are consistently produced and controlled according to set quality standards. Unfortunately, as the federal law currently states, the use, sale, and possession of cannabis containing over 0.3% THC by dry weight remains illegal as a Schedule I drug type under the federal Controlled Substance Act of 1970, despite laws in the majority of states that have enacted legislation permitting exemptions for various uses, including medical, industrial and recreational use. 

Because cannabis is currently a Schedule I drug type (sadly, the same category as Heroin and MDMA), federal agencies, such as the FDA, have not developed GMP guidelines for licensed and compliant cannabis operators. As a result, state lawmakers and cannabis business owners are forced to navigate this new and rapidly evolving industry without any standardized guidelines. 

On August 29, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, in the near term, this recommendation is unlikely to significantly impact the cannabis industry because the Drug Enforcement Agency must now conduct its review and decide whether to follow the HHS recommendation. It also does not legalize cannabis. State-licensed cannabis businesses will still be operating in violation of federal law. However, in the long term, the FDA could provide specific guidelines or subject cannabis to existing regulatory authority.

3. What can cannabis business owners do to be
GMP-ready as legislation changes in the future?

Cannabis operators can get critical insights into what GMP guidelines may potentially look like in the future for the US from global cannabis companies that are certified EU-GMP. Some of the differences between EU-GMP and US-GMP are that the EU-GMPs require manufacturers to have a pharmaceutical quality system (PQS), encompassing a broad range of quality management activities. The US-GMPs emphasize the establishment of a quality control unit (QCU) and use quality systems but do not have a specific requirement for a PQS.

Basic Requirements of EU-GMP:

  • All manufacturing processes are clearly defined, systematically reviewed in the light of experience, and shown to be capable of consistently manufacturing medicinal products of the required quality and complying with their specifications.
  • All critical steps of manufacturing processes and significant changes to the process are validated.
  • Appropriately qualified and trained personnel.
  • Adequate premises and space. 
  • Suitable equipment and services.
  • Correct materials, containers, and labels.
  • They approved procedures and instructions by the Pharmaceutical Quality System.
  • Suitable storage and transport.
  • Written instructions and procedures in unambiguous language tailored to the provided facilities.
  • Operators undergo training to ensure the correct execution of procedures.
  • During manufacture, operators create records manually or use recording instruments to demonstrate that they followed all steps required by the defined procedures and instructions, ensuring the expected quantity and quality of the product.
  • Any significant deviations are fully recorded and investigated to determine the root cause and appropriate corrective and preventive action implemented.
  • Manufacturers retain production and distribution records in an understandable and accessible form, enabling the tracing of the batch’s complete history.
  • The distribution of the products minimizes any risk to their quality and takes account of Good Distribution Practices.
  • A system is available to recall any product batch from sale or supply.
  • The team examines product complaints, investigates the causes of quality defects, and takes appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of defective products.

4. How does GMP impact architectural design?

GMP can significantly influence the layout of a cultivation, extraction, and manufacturing facility and the selection of construction materials and equipment. The industrial architect must design the facility per the GMP regulations when applicable. Facility design for a GMP-compliant warehouse includes having designated areas for raw materials, finished goods, quarantine products, rejected products, etc. The warehouse must be dry, clean, and well-lit. The storage conditions shall be as per the material requirements.

Features to Incorporate in Facility Design:

  • Design and construct the facility to ensure hygienic production conditions.
  • Building materials, when applicable, should be easy to clean and sanitize.
  • There should be no way for the entry of insects, pests, birds, vermin, and rodents.
  • The facility should be spacious.
  • The facility has to be at a location where there are no fumes. The design should prevent any fumes or infestation of the product.
  • There should be covering on walls and floors, and surfaces should have cleanable surfaces.
  • The facility area should be free of cracks and open joints to avoid dust collection.
  • There should be segregation between departments and, in some cases, bio-secure vestibules for changing out personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • The facility infrastructure design should have a dedicated HVAC system based on area classification.
  • The facility should have a flexible layout.
  • The design must provide well-lit, ventilated production areas with air control facilities.
  • Design the drainage and plumbing system to prevent backflow and ensure adequate sizing.
  • Avoid open drains.
  • The construction process should not cause any negative impact on the environment.
  • The facility should have a provision for secure, hazardous, and inflammable materials as per the regulations.
  • Design a proper fire protection system.
  • Piping, electrical fittings, and other utilities should not create a recess.
  • Provide coloring and direction of flow on service lines.

5. What is GACP?

The World Health Organization (WHO) developed GACP, or Good Agricultural and Collection Practices for medicinal plants, in 2003 to enhance the safety, efficacy, and sustainability of medicinal plant material used in herbal medicines in the market. Specific to the cannabis industry, GACP consists of the practices used during agricultural production, which includes processes and procedures in the following stages: Tissue Culture, Mother/Stock, Propagation, Vegetative, Flowering, and Harvesting. Typically, the drying stage and all manufacturing after drying is where the transition happens from GACP to GMP.

Main Objectives of GACP Guidelines:

  • To contribute to the quality assurance of medicinal plant materials used as the source for herbal medicines to improve finished herbal products’ quality, safety, and efficacy.
  • To guide the formulation of national and regional GACP guidelines and GACP monographs for medicinal plants and related standard operating procedures.
  • To encourage and support the sustainable cultivation and collection of medicinal plants of good quality in ways that respect and support the conservation of medicinal plants and the environment in general.

Key Takeaway

GMP compliance is a continuous journey, not a destination. Regular audits, swift identification of potential deviations, and corrective actions are all part of this process. Embracing a culture of continuous improvement and having a team that understands and implements the principles and components of GMP are the first steps towards ensuring ‘Good’ Manufacturing Practices become ‘Great’ Manufacturing Practices.

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Episode 17: Helping the World Grow Smarter with Corinne Wilder from Fluence

Episode 17: Helping the World Grow Smarter with Corinne Wilder from Fluence

Episode 17-Fluence-Corrine_Landing Page


Ever wonder how the world of vertical farming is being revolutionized by LED lighting? Corinne Wilder, the VP of Global Commercial Operations at Fluence, joins host Michael Williamson. Corinne reveals the science-driven approach behind Fluence, a global LED horticultural lighting company. She shares her personal journey from a child growing up in a state park to a marine biology and ecology graduate and her transition to working in the commercial lighting industry.

Corinne has a unique perspective on the industry, having experienced firsthand the transition from a corporate giant like Panasonic to a startup atmosphere at Fluence. She sheds light on how LED technology has disrupted the vertical farming world, leading to the introduction of the all-white light at trade shows. Corinne also gives us an insider view on the challenges of understanding the title 24 code in California and its role in energy savings and rebates. You’ll gain a fresh perspective on the advantages of a broader spectrum of light for detecting pests and pathogens.

We discuss Corinne's leadership journey and her insights into women in leadership roles. She imparts valuable advice on finding your passion, advocating for yourself, and fighting against boundaries. We also delve into the fascinating world of oyster cultivation with our second guest, Rowan Jacobson, the author of numerous books on oysters. Get ready to discover the intricacies of oyster cultivation, the importance of native oysters to the American coast, and the intriguing possibility of creating an indoor aquarium environment for growing oysters. As we wrap up, we refocus on Fluence and the valuable resources they offer for those keen to delve deeper into this fascinating world.

  • 0:00 - Vertical Farming With LED Lighting
  • 8:58 - LED Technology Industry Career Transition
  • 20:34 - Commercial Operations and Female Leadership
  • 31:14 - Oyster Cultivation and Fluence Science


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Best Practices For Multi - tier Cannabis Cultivation

Lessons Learned – Best Practices For Multi-Tier Cannabis Cultivation Speaker Session at Cannabis Conference

Lessons Learned – Best Practices For Multi-Tier Cannabis Cultivation Speaker Session at Cannabis Conference

Knowledge is Power!

Have you ever wondered if your facility is ready for that next phase in your process or if multi-tier cannabis cultivation is your calling? Our expert team presented at this year’s Cannabis Conference in Las Vegas, discussing lessons learned in the industry and best practices for multi-tier cannabis cultivation.

Listen as Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation, Anders Peterson, Director of Horticulture, and Del Rockwell, Product Manager at Pipp Horticulture, examine the design of a space, such as keeping in mind room layout and how to incorporate your HVAC to have consistent airflow, while sharing tips and tricks on how to manage your canopy operation best and creating a harvesting strategy to stay consistent.

You will want to take advantage of this opportunity to hear from industry experts to learn something new you may want to incorporate into your daily routine!

Watch full session below!

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Episode 16: Future Proofing and Integrated Design with Mitch Galton from UrbanGro

Episode 16: Future Proofing and Integrated Design with Mitch Galton from UrbanGro

Episode 16 Graphics-UrbanGro_Landing Page


Are you ready to unlock the secrets of the cannabis industry? Join us in an enlightening discussion with Mitch Galton, Director of Business Development at Urban Gro, as he pulls back the curtain on the highs and lows of navigating the burgeoning field. From conquering the market with speed to circumventing the industry's notorious delays, Mitch shares how Urban Gro's turnkey model is paving the way for success. Plus, he takes us on a trip down memory lane with his fascinating transition into the world of cannabis.

Scaling a 15-person startup to a 200-strong team is no mean feat - Mitch has seen it all. His journey in the horticulture and cannabis sector is filled with defining moments that shaped his career. He takes us from Texas to Canada, discussing the unique challenges that tagged along. With the stringent cultivation policies and retail restrictions in Canada, there's a lot to unpack. Stay tuned as we delve into the complexities of retrofitting cannabis facilities and how Urban Gro is facilitating smooth transitions for its clients.

Ever wondered how LED lighting and genetic selection play crucial roles in cannabis cultivation? Mitch's in-depth insights into these areas will leave you intrigued. He shines a light on the advantages of LED lighting for cultivation, the importance of genetic selection, and the challenges Canadian cultivators face. The conversation isn't only packed with practical insights but also brings to the forefront some thought-provoking questions about the future of the cannabis industry. So, is the industry ready to strike the perfect balance and future-proof cannabis facilities? Join us to find out!

  • 0:00 - Urban Gro's Solutions and Challenges
  • 06:45 - Startup Journey and Growth in Texas
  • 10:36 - Canadian Cannabis Market Challenges and Issues
  • 14:45 - Considerations for Retrofitting Cannabis Facilities
  • 26:03 - LED Lighting for Cannabis Cultivation
  • 36:41 - Genetic Selection and Brand Viability
  • 45:09 - Challenges and Considerations in Genetic Selection
  • 49:16 - Future-Proofing Cannabis Facilities


GrowGlide Resources






Show Links

Pipp Horticulture Website 

Pipp Horticulture YouTube 

Pipp Horticulture - Facebook 

Pipp Horticulture Instagram 

Pipp Horticulture LinkedIn 

Pipp Horticulture Pinterest 

Pipp Horticulture Twitter 

This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis: Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy

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Fog City Farms

10 Essential Tips for Creating a Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Facility

10 Essential Tips for Creating a Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Facility

Vertical Air Solutions

Setting up a Successful CEA Facility

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) has transformed the agricultural landscape, offering innovative solutions to traditional farming challenges. As urbanization increases and the demand for locally grown, pesticide-free crops increase, CEA facilities are gaining prominence. But setting up a successful CEA facility requires careful planning and foresight. Here are ten expert tips to help establish a thriving CEA operation.

1. Create a Comprehensive Plan

Setting up a Controlled Environment Agriculture facility requires a well-thought-out approach, accounting for many factors ranging from finance to nuanced design and engineering elements. One cannot overstate the importance of a comprehensive plan in ensuring your CEA facility’s efficiency, sustainability, and profitability. Investing time and effort into crafting a comprehensive plan can be the difference between the success and failure of your CEA venture. This plan should include: 

Business Plan

Start with a thorough business plan. This Business Plan should be the roadmap that guides your journey. Understand your target market, identify supply gaps, determine the crops you plan to produce based on market demand, and research the competition. 

The business plan should outline your marketing strategy, pricing model, and sales approach. Consider external factors that might influence your business, such as regulations, competition, market fluctuations, technological advances, and environmental concerns. Building flexibility into your business plan can help you adapt to unforeseen changes.

Financial Proforma

This is a critical component of planning that will have implications throughout the operations lifecycle. A financial proforma provides projections for revenues, expenses, and profitability. Your proforma should include estimates for initial startup costs, operating costs, anticipated yields, and selling prices. You must also factor in technology costs, testing, labor, genetics, nutrients, advisors, sales and marketing, and utilities. 

This document is crucial not only for internal budgeting but also imperative when seeking external financing or investors. Remember to regularly revisit and adjust your financial proforma as real-world data from your operations flows in.

Facility Design

Designing the facility is one of the most crucial yet challenging components of setting up a CEA. Whether you’re conceptualizing an indoor vertical farm, greenhouse, or another type of CEA environment, the design should optimize space, ensure efficient and ergonomic labor, minimize utility consumption, and promote high yields. 

Consider light sources, ventilation, environmental control, pest control management, and workflow. A well-thought-out design can significantly influence the efficiency and productivity of your CEA setup. If possible, involve experts or consultants in this phase to benefit from their experience.

2. Define Your Goals

Defining clear and measurable goals ensures success, strengthens morale, and maximizes resources when setting up a CEA facility. Before diving into the technicalities, clarify your objectives. Are you aiming for a specific ROI, year-round production, specific crop production, organic, and or GMP certification? Your facility’s design, technology, and operating procedures should align with these objectives. Early in the planning stage, it is essential to identify the type(s) and volume of crops you intend to cultivate. Each crop will have unique environmental needs regarding light, humidity, temperature, CO2, and nutrients. Once you’ve identified the crop, set clear yield objectives. Your infrastructure, technology, and financial investments will largely pivot on this decision. By defining goals clearly and precisely, informed stakeholders can align to ensure their facility’s resilience, profitability, and community impact.

3. Choose the Right Location

While Controlled Environment Agriculture facilities offer greater environmental control, location still matters and can impact nearly all variables operators manage. Here are a few factors to consider:

Energy Availability

Understand your power requirements. Ensure you have access to consistent, affordable energy sources. Lack of power can significantly impede optimization or worse.

Water Quality

Access to clean water is crucial. Test water for contaminants and consider and establish a purification system based on the results.


Proximity to suppliers and markets reduces transportation costs and ensures product freshness.

Labor Force

Ensure access to the appropriate labor force at rates within the allocated budget.

4. Plan for Scalability and Future Expansion

When planning your facility, defining your goals, and selecting a location, don’t neglect to consider scalability. Planning for scalability and future expansion in a Controlled Environment Agriculture facility is a multifaceted endeavor that can save significant time, effort, and money. Developing a modular design is a practical approach to ensuring scalability, designing, and constructing in a way that allows for easy expansion or integration of new sections. Your modular design involves conceptualizing the physical structure, electrical, plumbing, and other systems to be expandable. Operations can add new modules or zones with minimal downtime and impact on existing processes.

A scalable CEA facility doesn’t just refer to infrastructure and technology; it’s also the team operating it. Continuous training programs ensure a prepared workforce to handle expansions and adopt new technologies. Focusing on workforce development ensures that personnel are ready to take on managerial roles as the company scales. Scaling operations often require significant capital. It’s crucial to have a clear financial roadmap that outlines the resources needed for future expansions. Scaling operations may entail setting aside a portion of profits for reinvestment, exploring external financing options, or partnering with investors who understand the vision of the business. Finally, it’s essential to have mechanisms in place to gauge market demand constantly. Scalability should be in line with market needs. By establishing strong feedback loops with distributors, retailers, and end-consumers, the CEA facility can fine-tune its expansion plans to better align with market dynamics.

5. Optimize for Space

Optimizing space in a CEA Facility is paramount, given the premium costs associated and the need to maximize yields to ensure profitability. As urban farming and indoor agriculture continue to gain traction, operations are constantly searching for innovative techniques and technologies to maximize output in limited space. A groundbreaking innovation in this space is the development of mobile vertical farming racks. Mobile vertical grow racks allow farmers to utilize unused aisles and vertical space, which is particularly relevant in urban settings where horizontal space is often limited. By stacking crops on top of one another, these racks can dramatically increase yields in a fixed area and their mobility allows for additional space optimization by eliminating static aisles and improves plant maintenance, harvesting, and cleaning.

Catwalk systems are another space-saving tool for CEA facilities. They’re advantageous operations where accessing the top tiers of vertical farming racks can become a challenge. Catwalks provide growers with safe and convenient access to all vertical indoor farming setup levels. This ease of access can also speed up farming operations like pruning, scouting, and harvesting. Mobile carts have become indispensable tools in modern CEA setups. These carts are designed and customized for seeding, transplanting, or harvesting tasks. Due to their mobility, they allow workers to move seamlessly from one location to another, carrying all the necessary tools and supplies with them. Utilizing mobile carts saves space and significantly improves operational efficiency, wasting less time moving back and forth.

6. Ensure Proper Air Circulation

One of the essential components contributing to the success of a CEA facility is ensuring proper air circulation and sanitation. Efficient air movement is vital for plant health and crucial for temperature, humidity, and contaminant control, influencing crop yields and quality. The ambient airflow system is at the heart of maintaining an ideal growing environment. Ambient airflow creates a gentle, consistent movement of air that minimizes hot, cold, or stagnant spots and ensures an even distribution of heat, humidity, and carbon dioxide (CO2) around the plants. Proper ambient airflow can also help prevent the growth of mold and other pathogens by reducing the moisture build-up on plant surfaces.

When well-designed, ambient airflow systems can significantly improve plant health and productivity by creating an environment where plants can optimally perform photosynthesis and transpiration. Multi-Level Airflow Systems: For multi-tiered growing systems, multi-level airflow becomes essential. Unlike traditional single-layer operations, multi-tiered systems have unique challenges, as each layer might have slightly different microclimates. The multi-level airflow system addresses these issues and ensures that each tier gets adequate air movement. Design and install these systems to ensure every plant receives a uniform air supply. Additionally, these systems help prevent diseases and pest infestations specific to each level. By effectively understanding and implementing these systems, growers can expect crop quality, yield, and overall plant health improvements.

7. Automate for Consistency

Automation in a CEA facility can encompass a multitude of systems and processes. Consistent automation could range from simple temperature and humidity controls to complex nutrient dosing, CO2 enrichment, and integrated pest management systems. By automating these processes, growers can ensure that plants receive the exact amount of water, light, nutrients, and other necessities at the right time. Such precision maximizes crop yield and quality and minimizes resource waste. When external conditions, such as temperature or sunlight, fluctuate, automation systems can adjust internal conditions to maintain the desired environment, ensuring that plants remain unaffected.

In addition to enhancing crop growth, automating processes can lead to operational efficiencies and labor savings. Modern automated systems often come equipped with data analytics capabilities. Allowing growers to monitor trends, make predictions, and refine their cultivation strategies to minimize utility and nutrient use while adjusting for optimal conditions. Having access to this information not only reduces costs but also lessens the environmental footprint of the facility.

8. Invest in Training and Continuous Learning

Setting up a CEA facility is a multifaceted undertaking that demands an in-depth understanding of various interdisciplinary domains. It amalgamates knowledge from botany, engineering, data science, and even business. As such, training and continuous learning become crucial components for the success of any CEA initiative.

Initial Training

When first embarking on a CEA venture, the team should undergo intensive training on the fundamentals of the system. This type of training could range from understanding plant physiology and its specific requirements for optimal growth to mastering the intricacies of the CEA technologies. Light intensity, nutrient mix, temperature, and humidity must be controlled and optimized. Mistakes in managing these variables can result in crop failure or suboptimal yields, making training a critical investment for long-term viability.

This training isn’t just limited to technicians or the individuals directly handling the crops. Stakeholders at all levels, from managerial to marketing, should fundamentally understand the operations. This training ensures everyone is aligned, leading to efficient decision-making and problem-solving.

Continuous Learning

As with any technology-driven industry, the world of CEA is constantly evolving. New research provides insights into better crop management practices. Technological advancements introduce tools and systems to optimize plant growth and reduce operational costs. Given this rapidly changing landscape, continuous learning is not just beneficial; it’s imperative.

Team members should regularly attend workshops, seminars, and courses. Many academic and research institutions offer specialized programs focused on CEA. Online platforms have become treasure troves of knowledge, with webinars, courses, and forums dedicated to CEA best practices. Leveraging these resources can provide a competitive edge.

Collaborative Learning and Networking

CEA facilities can benefit immensely from networking with similar operations elsewhere. Collaborative learning opportunities can be invaluable, where facilities share successes, challenges, and learnings. Collaborative efforts could lead to shared research projects, the pooling of resources for better training tools, or even joint ventures in exploring new markets or crop possibilities. Leverage the collective knowledge of the CEA community to overcome individual challenges and push the envelope on what’s achievable in controlled environment agriculture.

9. Implementing IPM Program

Implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs in Controlled Environment Agriculture facilities is essential for ensuring crop health, optimizing yields, and overall success. Due to the controlled nature of these environments, there’s an opportunity to adopt a comprehensive and proactive approach to pest management. IPM focuses on a holistic approach, combining various strategies to manage pests and pathogens rather than relying solely on chemical pesticides. In a CEA facility, it starts with preventing pest entry. Pests mainly gain access via new plants, materials, or humans. Regularly inspecting and quarantining new plants, ensuring the facility is airtight, and having proper hygiene, cleaning, and sanitation protocols can help prevent pest entry.

Continuous monitoring is crucial for an effective IPM strategy in a CEA setup. Use yellow or blue sticky traps to monitor flying insects’ presence and population levels. Once pests are detected, it’s vital to identify them accurately. Not all insects or microorganisms are harmful; some might even be beneficial. Accurate identification ensures that the response is appropriate and effective. Beneficial insects, like ladybugs, predatory mites, and parasitic wasps, can be introduced to manage pest populations. A controlled and sealed environment maximizes the efficacy of releasing these biocontrol agents.

In a CEA facility, growers have the advantage of adjusting environmental parameters, such as temperature and humidity, to unfavorable levels for pests. Physical controls, such as barriers, screens, or UV light traps, can be installed to prevent or reduce the entry and movement of pests. While the emphasis in IPM is to minimize chemical use, sometimes it becomes necessary, especially when pest populations reach threatening levels. In such cases, select pesticides wisely. Preferably, choose those that are least toxic, have minimal residual effect, and are safe for beneficial insects. Rotation of different modes of action can prevent resistance development in pest populations.

10. Continuous Evaluation and Adaption

CEA facilities and associated growing methodologies significantly advance modern agricultural practices, emphasizing precise control over environmental conditions to optimize plant growth and production. This technology-driven approach to farming can be applied in greenhouses, vertical farms, or other indoor facilities and hinges upon continuous evaluation, improvement, and adaptation to optimize crop outcomes. Essentially consistently monitoring and adjusting conditions in real-time to meet plants’ specific needs throughout their growth cycles.

Continuous evaluation in CEA is an ongoing process of collecting and analyzing data on various environmental parameters. By regularly tracking these variables, growers can identify patterns, anomalies, or inefficiencies that may impact plant health, growth rate, or yield. CEA operations often integrate many tools and systems to facilitate the perpetual cycle of monitoring and adjusting. Sensors continuously measure soil moisture content, ambient environmental conditions, and nutrient levels, feeding this data into centralized control systems. Automated irrigation systems can adjust water delivery based on real-time moisture data, ensuring plants receive optimal hydration with minimal waste.

Similarly, climate control systems can regulate temperature and humidity, ensuring they remain within desired ranges. Remote monitoring and cloud-based platforms have become increasingly prevalent in CEA, enabling growers to supervise and manage their facilities from anywhere in the world. Remote monitoring and cloud-based platforms facilitate quicker decision-making and allow for collaboration among experts in different geographical locations.


As our world continues to change, efficient, sustainable, and optimized agricultural production becomes imperative. By following the ten essential tips outlined in this blog, you’re ensuring a well-established foundation for your CEA facility, promising higher yields, optimal plant health, and a significant reduction in resource waste. 

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Episode 15: Progress and Challenges for the Global Cannabis Market with Fluence

Episode 15: Progress and Challenges for the Global Cannabis Market with Fluence

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Ever wondered why Germany plays such a pivotal role in the European cannabis industry? Join your host, Michael Williamson, as he speaks with Timo Bongartz, General Manager of Fluence, in an engaging discussion exploring the fascinating world of cannabis cultivation and lighting. Michael and Timo shed light on the complexities of obtaining a prescription for medical cannabis in Germany and discuss potential shifts in this landscape.

They address the progress and challenges of the cannabis lighting industry, the need for market correction and standardization and the intricacies of managing complex business models. They explore the future of Europe’s role and the steps necessary for swift development. Through analysis of pilot projects in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands and their potential impacts on the supply chain, you’ll discover why the German cannabis market is crucial for international stakeholders and how the country's healthcare system influences patient access to medical cannabis.

Explore insights, trends, and investment opportunities within the dynamic cannabis market. Our guide unveils advanced cannabis cultivation techniques, ensuring top-tier medical cannabis quality. Ready to master the art of cultivation? Join us in setting a path to distinction in this ever-evolving industry. Elevate your understanding, seize opportunities, and redefine the future of healthcare. Take the first step – explore, learn, and innovate with us. Your journey starts now.

  • 00:00 - Vertical Farming and German Cannabis Market


    13:28 - Cannabis Industry Challenges and Progress

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Episode 14: The Science & Business of Cannabis: What to Measure & Why with GrowGlide

Episode 14: The Science & Business of Cannabis: What to Measure & Why with GrowGlide

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Join us on Cultivation Elevated as we embark on an exciting exploration into the world of cannabis cultivation. This episode features a fascinating discussion with Jesse Porter, the Director of Cultivation for GrowGlide. Listen in as Jesse discusses the impact of GrowGlide's recent acquisition by Pipp Horticulture. He shares insights on the challenges and rewards of competition in the industry and how this acquisition paves the way for innovation and better support for the end customer.

We journey through host Michael Williamson's personal experiences in the cannabis industry. From being a hydro shop and nursery owner to moving to the West Coast and experiencing the boom of the cannabis market, Michael shares his strategies for differentiation in a competitive market. He also delves into how metrics and KPIs can help cannabis businesses enhance their efficiencies and how simple solutions can significantly improve your business without any additional financial cost.

We conclude the episode with a deep dive into how to maximize success in multi-tier cannabis cultivation. We take a closer look at how understanding your environment is crucial when transitioning to a multi-tier cultivation facility. So, whether you're an existing grower or owner looking to optimize your facility or someone looking to cultivate more in less space, tune in for key insights into vertical farming success.

  • 00:02 - Competition and Innovation in Vertical Farming
  • 12:50 - Hydro Shop Owner's Cannabis Journey
  • 23:28 - Optimizing Canopy Yield and Workflow Efficiency
  • 27:07 - Maximizing Success in Multi-Tier Cannabis Cultivation
  • 31:46 - Cannabis Cultivation Survival and Lean Principles
  • 44:39 - Efficiency and Data in Cannabis Facilities
  • 49:13 - Future Predictions for Cannabis and Food
  • 55:54 - Appreciation for Cultivation Elevated Podcast


GrowGlide Resources





Show Links

Pipp Horticulture Website 

Pipp Horticulture YouTube 

Pipp Horticulture - Facebook 

Pipp Horticulture Instagram 

Pipp Horticulture LinkedIn 

Pipp Horticulture Pinterest 

Pipp Horticulture Twitter 

This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis: Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy

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Tricks of the Trade: Operating a Multi-Tier Cannabis Grow with Maximum Yield

Tricks of the Trade: Operating a Multi-Tier Cannabis Grow with Maximum Yield

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Learn the Tips and Tricks of Operating a Multi-tier Cannabis Growing Space

Are you interested in learning the tips and tricks of operating a multi-tier cannabis growing space? Listen to our most recent webinar, “Tricks of the Trade: Operating a Multi-Tier Cannabis Grow,” presented by Michael Williamson and Anders Peterson with Maximum Yield. This webinar offers an overview of key strategies and insights needed to operate a multi-tier cannabis cultivation facility successfully.

Learn how to improve your facility operations by gaining new insights for your grow room. Discover essential Key Performance Indicators and metrics to enhance your performance and create customized operational strategies for each production phase.

Setting The Stage – Key Differences between Single-Tiered HPS vs. Multi-tier LED Cultivation

Many new moving parts may not integrate when starting and operating a new multi-tiered cultivation facility. By pre-planning and focusing on KPIs, you can stay ahead of your competition by making data-driven decisions. First-time commercial growers should consider having support from an experienced team member or consultant with a proven track record in mobile vertical grow racks. Cultivators with a collaborative approach with teammates and consultants with divergent but complementary skill sets typically result in best-in-class operations. Be prepared to pivot, as the market is constantly shifting. A common concern from a single-tiered high-pressure sodium, HPS, cultivator thinking about going multi-tier is concerns about reaching quality and yield goals.

The main difference between the two is the amount of the anticipated yield. The best single-tier HPS cultivators receive between 90 and 120 grams per square foot, roughly 200 to 260 pounds per harvest. Our typical LED cultivators are between 65 and 80 grams or more per square foot, slightly less than single-tier, but the number of grams will be per tier. Combining those two tiers means we have 132-160 plus grams per square foot, equating to about 285 to 350 plus pounds per harvest. These numbers may not seem like too big of a difference, but when looking at the difference in revenue, three-tiered LED cultivators are getting 190 to 240 grams per square foot; this ends up being about 530 pounds in the same room as a single-tiered HPS cultivator who was peaking at 260 pounds.

Something we also see as a limiting factor to quality and yield that we typically see within multi-tier is the room design itself, specifically around the mechanical system or HVAC design, and poor airflow. If your grow uses HPS, you typically focus on climate and root zone strategies. Those strategies are not very easy to take and apply to LEDs. With LEDs, you will need to slightly change all of your growth parameters to account for a different lighting spectrum. With LEDs, you can push your plants harder with different growth parameters. You can now raise your room temperatures with LEDs to achieve the same leaf surface temperature and VPD.

For more information about the design of multi-tier cannabis grow rooms, head to our previous webinar blog, Multi-Tier Grow Room Design: Measure Once, Build Twice.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

Key Performance Indicators, KPIs, are how cultivators gauge performance and improve operations each harvest. Using data-driven cultivation with your KPIs helps keep a lot of the guessing work out of growing and allows you to make quicker and more decisive decisions on what is occurring in your garden. There are many KPIs and cultivation metrics to follow, but three main components can typically have the most significant impact on your business. The three components are yield returns, turns or harvests per year, and labor metrics.

1. Yield Returns

Historically when referring to yields we were referring to pounds of sellable product per light. Now, a universal metric to discuss yield is in grams of sellable product per square foot of canopy (or grams per square foot).

Those who have mastered the art of efficient room designs are consistently achieving remarkable yields of 80 grams per square foot in every cultivation cycle. It’s important to note that the key factor separating growers in the lower yield range is the need for mechanical system design, HVAC, and dehumidification improvements. By addressing these crucial aspects, growers can unlock their true potential and reach new levels of success.

2. Turns or Harvests Per Year

We encourage cultivators to have minimal downtime in between harvests. Ideally, this means a next-day room reset after you have harvested your plants – harvesting all of the plants in one day or shift in that flowering room or zone, cleaning and sanitizing that room ideally, same day or the very first thing you do the next morning. Cultivars could even have an evening shift in between if that’s an option, then you’re resetting and repopulating that flower room the very next day.

Cultivators should have minimal downtime between harvests because when you have nine-week flowering cultivars, that will equal 5.8 harvests per year. Each day that you’re not flowering has a significant ramification in potential revenue loss. For example, a 10,000-square-foot flowering canopy estimated at $1,000 per pound would equate to $6.3 million a year. If you take a week for turnaround time between rooms, even five days, that will end up being 5.2 harvests per year, coming out to be $5.7 million yearly.

3. Labor Metrics

Labor is hands down an operator’s most significant expense and can be the most difficult to manage. Labor contributes to roughly 30 to 40% of the cost of production. There has been a shift in tracking labor from a KPI standpoint. We would typically see how many growers there are per light.

A standard number would most likely be about one grower per 50 lights. We look at it in terms of employees per square foot of flowering canopy. Common industry practice is one cultivation employee per 800 to 1200 square feet flowering canopy.

Production Phases

Mother Room 

One of the most significant shifts we’ve seen in mother plant production is moving away from single-tier mother plants to a multi-tier mother plant structure. Instead of growing large mother plants, growers utilize small to medium-sized plants to stagger production. The benefit of working with small to medium-sized mother plants is that you can maintain the mother plants’ health easier and receive more uniform cuttings. All the different uniform cuttings from the side and inside of the mother plants have different metabolism and strength toward lighting.

Production Schedule for Mother Plants:

Typically, you see a production schedule for a grow operation, but rarely do you hear of a mother production schedule. The plants you choose as your mother plants should not be the leftover or aftermath of your veg batch moving into flower; they should be the healthiest of all the plants possible because that is the foundation for the future of all your batches. One trend gaining popularity is a clone-to-kill model or a cut-to-kill model. The advantage of a clone-to-kill or cut-to-kill model is you can only take cuttings off the plant once, and then you destroy that mother plant. These models give you some of the healthiest clones, but the downside is that the plants themselves take up valuable space, so you must create square footage when planning. The benefit of a multi-tiered environment for your mother plants is you can most likely shrink your mother room and have more mother production. When you shrink your mother room, you free up critical floor space for other parts of your operation.

Vegetative Room

In the vegetative phase, this sets the pace for your production cycle, determining how your plants will perform and flower. In this phase, uniformity and consistency batch to batch is critical. Vegetative strategies and lengths vary for every facility based on pot size, plant counts, targeted finished plant height, or tier heights. If you’re growing a lot of new genetics, we recommend measuring the internodal length every few days to track the growth rate and then begin grouping similar cultivars. Depending on how much each cultivar tends to stretch and the height of your growth tiers and flower, you can then vary your veg time from three days up to two or three weeks to get your desired finished plant height. The more dialed in your climate and root zone parameters are in your veg room, the faster your plants will root and grow more shoots, reducing your total veg time and allowing you to get more terms per year out of your cannabis facilities.

Plant Stress

All canopy management or plant training techniques have a cost regarding plant stress, which can add up if you must be more careful and timely in your plant process flow. Compounding stress events can result from multiple stress events all at once. For example, transplanting the plant into a new substrate, skirt or trimming up the bottoms of the plant, topping the plant, adjusting growth parameters like lighting, intensity, what type of lighting, the environment can be different, and humidity as they transition from bench to flower.

Flower Room

When operating a multi-tier flower room, transitioning the plants to flower and timing the stretch is crucial. Before moving plants from the veg room into the flower room, it’s best to preset the flower room’s climate to match the VPD conditions in your veg room. Preseting the room will help limit the stress on the plants during the transition. Once your plants have transitioned into flower, you can expect rapid growth over the first two to three weeks, with plants tripling or quadrupling in size. This rapid growth is the stretch phase of the flower cycle. The goal is to have the plants finish about six to twelve inches away from the lights at harvest, depending on your fixtures.

It’s best to start pinching the taller nodes and weaving branches through the canopy trellis right after transplant to get everything uniform in height, then continue pinching, bending, and trellising throughout the stretch to help with the stretching phase. Your defoliation strategy is also essential and used throughout flower defoliation. Plucking or removing leaves from the canopy to thin it out will help with humidity and airflow issues, along with reducing the number of leaves that have become sinks for valuable plant resources.

Harvesting Strategy

Harvesting is always an exciting time in the cultivation process, but it can be unorganized if not thought through and having a plan set in place. It is always a good practice to do a walkthrough of your flower room one to two days before with whoever is managing that flower room and then to meet with whoever’s working that harvest to have a plan moving forward over the next couple of days to streamline the harvesting.

One technique many people have found helpful in the multi-tier environment to make harvest day and cleanup easier is the dried-down or die-on-the-vine strategy for the last 24 to 48 hours. To utilize this strategy, dimming your lights will lower the signaling senescence and reduce all irrigation. This strategy leverages the transpiration process to dry your plants to get a jumpstart on the drying process before you move them into a dry room. The dried-down or a die-on-the-vine strategy can help dry rooms with undersized humidification capacity. By leveraging transpiration, there is less wet weight to move off the upper and bottom tiers on harvest dates. This strategy can mean the difference in a large flower room of a thousand total pounds you must move in a day, whether that is your substrate weight or the actual biomass itself.

Utilizing Pipp Horticulture’s modular drying carts to help wheel into the flower room to collect the plants for harvest will help minimize plant damage. You can wheel the plants into the dry room, and cultivators can dry them directly on the carts or transition them to drying rack hangers and a whole plant hang technique. It’s essential to wait until all plants are out of the room before cleaning and sanitizing. Handling and moving opened-up substrates, like cocoa, can add particulate fungi and bacteria to the air, contributing to high microbial testing of unfinished flower.

Size the room for your facility layout and dry rooms so that you can harvest a whole room in a single shift, ensuring the entire harvest will fit within a single dry room. If you cannot hold a single crop in a single dry room or do it within a single day, it’s better to have two smaller dry rooms to avoid the issue of plants drying at different rates at different speeds.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the “Tricks of the Trade: Operating a Multi-Tier Cannabis Grow” webinar can help increase knowledge and skills in facility operations by exploring new perspectives and actionable insights to implement to optimize your processes and drive success. This will ensure a comprehensive understanding of the cultivation process with the knowledge and tools to create a multi-tier grow operation that will succeed in the competitive cannabis market and actionable insights to streamline workflows, reduce costs, and improve plant health and product quality.

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