Why the VAS 2.0 Is the Best Airflow System for Your Vertical Farm

Why the VAS 2.0 Is the Best Airflow System for Your Vertical Farm

Pipp Horticulture

In vertical farming applications, effective and consistent airflow is crucial for your crops to thrive. Many of the airflow solutions available today, such as fixed or oscillating fans, provide uneven air movement or fall short of delivering adequate air velocities. Vertical Air Solutions 2.0 system was designed to solve this problem with a wide range of consistent air speeds for any crop while working hand-in-hand with your HVAC system. The first purpose-built in-rack air circulation system of its kind, the VAS 2.0 was developed by growers, for growers. Here’s an in-depth look at why the VAS 2.0 system is the best choice for your vertical farm and how this innovative technology can boost the performance of your crop.

Why Airflow Is Crucial in Vertical Farms

In vertical farming, the cultivation of crops in stacked layers elevates the risk of microclimate development. Microclimates, small areas with differing temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels, can be detrimental to plant growth. Air circulation mitigates microclimates, ensuring uniform growth across all layers and maintaining favorable conditions.

Without proper airflow, your plants will not be able to photosynthesize at their optimal rate therefore reducing overall crop quality and yield. Airflow facilitates gas exchange at the leaf surface allowing the plant to take in more carbon dioxide (yield), release oxygen, and move transpired water vapor away from the stomata to maintain a vapor pressure deficit. Furthermore, air circulation helps to control pests and pathogens from attacking your crops by creating an unfavorable environment for them to flourish. 

While all of the parameters for plant growth are important, airflow is the equalizer that balances and ties everything together. Oftentimes airflow is the greatest limiting factor to plant growth in vertical farms but that has now become a thing of the past with the introduction of the new VAS 2.0 air circulation system by Pipp Horticulture.

Why Choose Vertical Air Solutions?

As pioneers in in-rack airflow technology, Vertical Air Solutions leads the industry with hundreds of successful installations worldwide. . Our products have the unique ability to deliver consistent, yet an easily adjustable amount of airflow over the entire plant canopy at all grow levels.  Top producers globally have seamlessly integrated VAS into their vertical grow platforms to ensure optimal plant health.

The VAS 2.0 Offers Innovative Technology

The latest innovation in airflow systems by Vertical Air Solutions has arrived. In the 2.0 version, each component has been fully redesigned and improved. The VAS 2.0 delivers the highest air velocities possible while maintaining consistent performance across varying row lengths.

New materials and construction methods were carefully chosen to reduce costs and make installation hassle-free, all without sacrificing quality. With highly adjustable configurations, this system was designed to meet the airflow needs of your crop.

The VAS 2.0 allows for the purest possible airflow and is visually appealing and discreet. This system is easy to install and fits a wide range of rack lengths and canopy spacing. It delivers the airflow your plants need to thrive while saving valuable space in your vertical farm.

Benefits of the VAS 2.0 System

There are many benefits to integrating the VAS 2.0 system. Here are some of the ways this technology will improve your vertical farm:

Increased Consistency: Stabilizes environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels for increased growth rates and consistent yields. 

Enhanced Crop Health: More consistent environmental conditions help promote plant growth while decreasing the risk of mold and disease. 

Vertical Airflow: Strategic vertical airflow can ensure uniform temperature, humidity, and CO2 throughout your entire grow space.

Space-Saving Design: Our new system is compact and sleek. With the thinnest form factor on the market, it fits seamlessly into most vertical racking systems while providing superior performance.

Increased savings: This energy-efficient system maximizes air circulation while minimizing power consumption, making it cost-effective and sustainable.

Customizable Control: Our system is highly adjustable, so you can tailor the airflow to meet your plants’ unique needs.

Dependability: Invented and field-tested by growers, this system is proven and reliable.

In conclusion, the VAS 2.0 system stands as the pinnacle solution for ensuring the success of your vertical farm. With its innovative technology, dependable performance, and an array of benefits, the VAS 2.0 system assures healthier and more consistent crop yields. Moreover, this system’s reliability is backed by its development and field-testing by growers, guaranteeing dependable performance. Embrace this cutting-edge in-rack airflow system and witness your vertical farm flourish like never before. 

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Vertical Air Solutions Launches VAS 2.0: Revolutionizing Vertical Farming

Vertical Air Solutions Launches VAS 2.0: Revolutionizing Vertical Farming

Pipp Horticulture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Vertical Air Solutions Launches VAS 2.0: Revolutionizing Vertical Farming with the next generation of Innovative In-Rack Airflow System

 

[Walker, MI, October 26, 2023] – Vertical Air Solutions, a pioneer in the indoor vertical farming industry is proud to announce the launch of its groundbreaking product, VAS 2.0. This innovative system represents a significant leap forward in the world of vertical farming, offering growers a more efficient and cost-effective solution for optimizing plant growth.

 

Vertical Air Solutions’ patented In-Rack Airflow System, designed by growers for growers has set a new standard for uniform, top-down airflow in multi-layered rolling rack platforms. The arrival of VAS 2.0 brings a host of improvements, making it the definitive choice for any vertical farm looking to achieve consistent crop yields, enhance crop health, and save valuable space.

 

The Power of VAS 2.0:

The new VAS 2.0 offers increased consistency, mitigating microclimates and homogenizes environmental conditions, ensuring consistent Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD) and steady growth rates. By maintaining even leaf temperatures and facilitating gas exchange, VAS 2.0 promotes transpiration and photosynthetic rates, leading to healthier and more robust crops.

 

Strategic vertical airflow ensures uniform temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels throughout the grow space, optimizing a crop’s potential. The compact and sleek system integrates seamlessly into most vertical racking systems. It features the thinnest form factor on the market while providing superior performance.

The modernized version also offers cost savings and sustainability with the energy-efficient system that maximizes air circulation while minimizing power consumption. Consumers can tailor airflow meet their plants’ unique needs with adjustable fan speeds and a modular system design.

 

VAS 2.0 is not just a product; it’s a solution developed by growers who understand the importance of reliable, consistent performance.

 

Key Features of VAS 2.0:

EC Inline Fans reduce power consumption and allow for granular adjustment of air velocity, ensuring efficiency and cost savings. It offers maximized fan performance and reduction of duct turbulence improving airflow with its dual lofted plenum design. The corrugated polypropylene ducts make it humidity-resistant and compatible with common cleaning chemicals.

 

Not only is the system more efficient, but it also has improved construction with pre-sealed edges and secure duct connections that virtually eliminate air leakage, ensuring the integrity of your system. It works in any space thanks to the thinnest form factor on the market, reducing overall system height.

VAS 2.0 is pressure balanced, providing equal flow front-to-back and side-to-side at variable row lengths, improving the exit angle and overall performance.

 

The optimized duct dimensions increase flow rates and duct velocities, optimizing efficiency while fan mounting brackets offer precise mounting height of the system and adjustment of duct spacing, ensuring flexibility and adaptability.

 

The new version features an improved circular hole pattern ensures maximum air dispersion, throw distance, and velocity, optimizing your crop’s environment. The duct is lightweight, ships flat, and features a pop-up design for easy installation, reducing installation time and complexity.

 

Vertical Air Solutions is excited about the release of VAS 2.0, saying, ” Vertical Air Solutions is committed to continuous innovation and improvement in vertical farming. With VAS 2.0, we are proud to offer a solution that exceeds the needs and expectations of growers worldwide. This system will enable growers to achieve consistent, high-quality crop yields while saving space and reducing operating costs. We believe VAS 2.0 will be a game-changer in the industry.”

 

Vertical Air Solutions is known for its dedication to improving the efficiency and yield of its customers, along with its commitment to stable and interdependent partnerships in the vertical farming ecosystem. With VAS 2.0, the company is poised to deliver on these promises and set new industry standards for in-rack air circulation systems in indoor vertical farming.

 

For more information about Vertical Air Solutions and VAS 2.0, please visit https://vertairsolutions.com/.

 

About Vertical Air Solutions

Vertical Air Solutions leads the business of providing air circulation systems and related products to the global indoor vertical farming industry. With a relentless focus on innovation in improving the efficiency and yield of its customers and an unwavering commitment to stable and interdependent partnerships in its route to market, Vertical Air Solutions positions itself as a responsible, customer-focused, responsive, and politically and socially involved player in the medicinal and recreational cannabis ecosystem.

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harvest

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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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.

Logistics

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.

Conclusion

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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Oakfruitland Vertical Farming

Everything You Need To Know About Vertical Cannabis Grow Systems

Everything You Need To Know About Vertical Cannabis Grow Systems

Cannabis Vertical Grow Rack System

Although the legal cannabis industry is over a decade old in some states, it’s still a nascent industry compared to other agricultural sectors with proven best practices and equipment. The processes, techniques, and tools used to grow commercial cannabis are constantly evolving to optimize and streamline operations. Due to this rapid advancement, many ideas, systems, and strategies are antiquated and becoming obsolete. 

Growing Cannabis Vertically

Still, one concept expanding exponentially and here to stay for the foreseeable future is growing cannabis vertically. Vertical farming, when done correctly using vertical cannabis grow system, can significantly increase output, standardize operations, and maximize the overall efficiency of any commercial cannabis grow operation. Implementing vertical farming and space optimization strategies throughout the facility can reduce per-unit costs, allowing operators to take greater profits or stay competitive in more mature markets with declining prices. 

If you’re wisely considering investing in mobile vertical cannabis grow systems, read on to learn more about the benefits and what you’ll need to get started.

Advantages of Cannabis Vertical Grow Systems

While traditional horizontal growing is appropriate in specific scenarios, it leaves valuable space emptying many facilities. Incorporating vertical grow systems into your operation allows you to leverage every inch of your grow room to maximize profits while saving you money on alternative production space expenditures.

For example, sophisticated vertical cannabis grow systems can support strategies around efficient, closed-loop water systems to reduce water usage and associated costs. A well-designed irrigation plan should minimize and recapture run-off, in turn saving substantial amounts of money on water and sewer fees by capturing, treating, and reusing water.

Other advantages of vertical cannabis grow systems include:

  • Reduction of per-unit costs
  • Increased horizontal canopy space through the elimination of stationery aisles and the creation of mobile aisles via mobile carriages
  • Reduced need to buy or lease additional property for expansion
  • Standardized and streamlined cultivation processes and practices

Necessary Components of Vertical Cannabis Grow Systems

Oakfruitland: Vertical Farming Equipment and Components of a Vertical Grow System

Growing cannabis in a controlled-environment indoor grow facility offers a high degree of stability and control when combined with the proper tools and systems, including vertical cannabis grow system. To better understand the necessary components of commercial cannabis grow system, it’s important to understand the variables of growing cannabis. 

These variables include:

  • Genetics
  • Weather
  • Light (intensity, spectrum, cycle)
  • Temperature (ambient, canopy, sub-canopy, media)
  • Humidity (RH, dew point)
  • Airflow (ambient, canopy)
  • CO2 (quality, delivery)
  • Media (type, volume)
  • Irrigation (type, frequency, volume, treatment)
  • Fertigation (type, concentration, schedule, mixing)
  • IPM (microbial, viral, pests)
  • Plant maintenance
  • Support

All of these variables impact the final product sold to consumers and contribute to the costs of goods sold (COGS), which all play a part in any grow operation’s profit margins. In other words, to have control over these variables is to have greater control over how much money your business makes. Utilizing vertical cannabis grow systems in your operation helps standardize and better control some of these variables when designed, installed, and commissioned correctly.

How To Set Up a Vertical Cannabis Grow System

Vertical cannabis grows systems can require more planning than traditional grow operations because you need to evaluate multiple variables on multiple levels that can all impact one another. When setting up your vertical grow racks and mobile carriages, be sure to consider the following:
 
  • Floor levelness
  • Ceiling height (including ductwork and any other objects hanging)
  • Drain locations
  • Door locations
  • Columns and other obstructions and their potential interference
  • Local municipal building codes
  • Multi-level access equipment clearance (OSHA-approved ladders or man-lifts)
  • Workflow and ergonomics
  • Product lead times
  • Installation 

Hiring certified and experienced professionals to help you design, outfit, and set up your vertical grow system is wise. Working with providers like Pipp Horticulture allows access to seasoned professionals who can review architectural layouts and designs and make recommendations for maximized space utilization, elevations, and integration with other components. Additionally, Pipp can provide grow room dimensions for maximizing canopy, workspace, and airflow.

Flora Terra - Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Tips for Maintaining Your Vertical Cannabis Grow System

If your vertical cannabis grow system is made with aluminum and galvanized or stainless steel components, there’s a good chance it will require little maintenance. Wheels should be sealed bearings, so no lubrication or maintenance is necessary. Wiping down racks and trays, vacuuming debris from the floor, trays, and tracks, and using ozone, UV, Bio-Foam, and Bio-Fogger to sanitize your equipment will help maintain a healthy growing environment.

You will also want to check and perform suggested maintenance on your drains regularly. Make sure to keep drains clear of debris and monitor your entire plumbing as fertilizers and other chemicals and solutions can corrode pipes and joints.

Safety is a big concern for any commercial operator. Ensuring your Team has easy access to the plants on the upper level of your cannabis grow system while minimizing their reach and fall risk is crucial for owners and managers running a tight ship. Ladders, lifts, and scaffolding can get the job done, but they’re more dangerous than other options. Pipp’s ELEVATE™ Platform System is a robust, lightweight, portable deck that allows cultivators to access the upper levels quickly, efficiently, and, most importantly, safely.

The Future of Cannabis

Because of the rising demand for recreational cannabis and the growing list of medical uses of the plant, the need for indoor-grown cannabis shows no signs of slowing down. The combination of demand, land pressure, and increasing rents will prompt cultivators to embrace more efficient cultivation solutions like vertical farming. 

Vertical farming techniques allow growers to maximize their output and consistently provide locally grown cannabis to consumers in urban centers. Vertical cannabis grow systems will continue to optimize and drive efficiency in cannabis and other indoor agricultural sectors while reducing inefficiencies commonly associated with indoor farming.

Pipp Horticulture is the leading space-saving mobile indoor vertical grow racking systems provider. All Pipp Horticulture products are made in the USA and integrate with other essential grow equipment like lighting, irrigation, drainage, and airflow systems.

Vertical farming with Pipp Horticulture can maximize production capability, reduce COGS, and increase overall profitability.
 
 
 

Call us today to take the next step and learn more about vertical commercial cannabis cultivation!

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TerrAscend

Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks Lift Farmers to Higher Ground – Max Yield Magazine

Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks Lift Farmers to Higher Ground – Max Yield Magazine

TerrAscend

Pipp Horticulture featured in the latest Maximum Yield article

Leading mobile vertical grow rack provider, Pipp Horticulture, is paving the way for indoor and greenhouse growers looking to maximize their space and cultivation production.

After 40 years of dominating the mobile storage industry, it only took a few short years for Pipp Horticulture to become the industry-leading provider of mobile vertical grow racks, focused on the mission to develop the most innovative products specifically designed to meet the needs of indoor growers. The company passionately and meticulously meets the needs of its clients. With over 2,000 installations worldwide, their innovation and commitment to continual improvement have enabled them to stand out and expand their leadership position in this niche industry by eliminating obstacles, increasing efficiencies, and boosting revenues for indoor growers.

Pipp and its partners, Greenhaus Industries and Vertical Air Solutions (VAS) were awarded several U.S. patents for their indoor mobile vertical farming systems and airflow solutions. Additionally…

To check out the full article about Pipp’s groundbreaking products and services for cultivators across the globe, check out Maximum Yield’s full article, “Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks Lift Farmers to Higher Ground,” with the link below!

Click Here!

Flora Terra

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Cannabis Conference 2022

Vertical Farming | What To Know Before You GROW UP!

Vertical Farming | What To Know Before You GROW UP!

Cannabis Conference 2022

The Pipp Horticulture team is no stranger to the Cannabis Conference stage. During the 2022 Cannabis Conference, Pipp’s team of cultivation professionals and engineering experts took the stage during the final day as session speakers! Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation at Pipp Horticulture, James Cunningham, Co-Founder and Director of Cultivation at Vertical Air Solutions, and Del Rockwell, Product Manager at Pipp Horticulture, discussed the essential considerations behind space planning and design for a multi-tier indoor cultivation facility. 

During the Technologies and Solutions Session on Vertical Farming, Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation at Pipp Horticulture, stated, “With everything in cannabis, it’s all about the little details.” Four main topics were discussed during the session when considering “What To Know Before You GROW UP!” Below you’ll find the key takeaways on how to improve your safety, ergonomics, and productivity.

Vertical Farming Space Planning & Design Layout

Mother Plants

Currently, we’re seeing many different trends in the cannabis industry, particularly around vertical farming. Everyone is used to double or triple multi-tiered environments for their clone rooms, but we are now seeing a shift from having huge mother plants to having multiple mother plants in a two-tiered environment. Typically, you see traditional cultivators with huge moms taking as many cuttings as possible, cycling through their mother plants much faster, with a three-month life span. When going from a single-tier to double, you’re getting twice the amount of healthy, viable clones. Cultivators are now getting healthier plants, more healthy cuttings, and reducing pest and disease risks.

How High Can You Go? 

Cultivators still need to consider the layout of the entire facility. It’s vital to support your flower room and the volume of plants while considering the design regarding your operations workflow. “It’s tempting always to go as high as possible and as long as possible,” Del Rockwell states, “but many growers saw a ‘sweet spot’ at about 32 to 40 feet in length. We see about 12 to 14-foot tall works for most facilities for shelving.” Del states, “We can go longer,” but you have to consider how you will access everything, how effective it will be, and what the quality of the plants you will get from labor and access.

Air Circulation

When constructing the growing area, you’re putting layers across the room with an HVAC design and adding circulation to create a homogenous environment. “Many of us in the indoor space came from single-tier cultivation, where you have a big open ambient space between the canopy and the ceiling in the room,” James Cunningham states while discussing air circulation in the grow space. James continues, “Combining all this equipment into one room creates an impediment for the supply air coming from your HVAC and for your transpiration and heat load from your lights to get trapped in. As the distance shrinks from canopy to ceiling, the grower will need to find a way to create consistent temperature and humidity in the space. By introducing Vertical Air Solutions to your growing operations, you’ll receive mixing chambers bolted to the outside of the racks with inline fans to pull conditioned and dehumidified air. You strategically supply conditioned air to each tier space, creating consistency and a dissatisfying microclimate through the canopy.”

Design and Mechanical Engineering

“Design and mechanical engineering behind your HVAC are very important in your cultivation space,” notes James discussing the difference between a successful and low microbial or low melt mold and mildew crop. Design and mechanical engineering are one of the most overlooked aspects of the process, taking into account the supply, layout, and innovation at the beginning before it’s too late.

Environmental Control Needs

Regardless of your approach to sizing your HVAC, growers need to understand how to supply air strategically to their vertical space. “To drop the moisture out of the air, you have to cool it rapidly to get the air to condense and then supply it back to the room with a reheat element,” James stated. Typical HVAC systems installed into grow operations exchange air only a few times per hour; however, Vertical Air Solutions expects 20-30 complete room air exchanges per hour. The supply and returns can make a world of difference in the performance of your plants and mitigating disease.

Genetics and Key Traits

Thanks to Vertical Air Solutions, “now I can grow any cultivar,” Michael reflected during the discussion with James about his past focus on growing only certain types of cultivars in a vertical farming environment. With years of experience, James states, “what landed us being fairly successful in vertical spaces was understanding the genetics and knowing what we were getting into.” In the beginning, running Indica-dominant plants that didn’t stretch too far can now work with any strain but also introduce the Sativa-dominant plants that grow in the lights.

Vertical Farming
Sozo Vertical Farming

Labor Optimization 

When thinking about single-tier grow operations, most are growing plants roughly five to seven feet tall, working on a rolling bench, and climbing a ladder to get to the very top. Pipp Horticulture considered this and “was the first to come up with a catwalk system that is seamless and easy to put into a system,” Michael states while talking about Pipp Horticulture’s ELEVATE™ Platform System. By incorporating ELEVATE™, growers no longer face challenges in a multi-tier environment. Employees can reach their level in a second or third-tier setting feeling safe and secure. Safety was one of the most critical priorities regarding design, flexibility, and efficiency. “One of the largest expenses you’re going to have over the lifetime of this facility is the labor expenses,” Del states. Anything to optimize and reduce the time spent on processes will be beneficial. When it comes to labor also comes liability. We always want to keep people and their safety first. 

In Conclusion

Shifting from a single-tiered grow room to a multi-tiered vertical farming environment helps optimize space and maximize profits. Subscribe to the What To Know Before You GROW UP podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts to stay updated with the latest cultivation tactics and industry trends.

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Vertical Air Solutions

Vertical Air Solutions – Dry Ice Test for Cultivation Airflow w/ James Cunningham

Vertical Air Solutions – Dry Ice Test for Cultivation Airflow w/ James Cunningham

Vertical Air Solutions

James Cunningham, Founder of Fog City Farms, Co-Founder of VAS & Director of Cultivation, shows vertical air solutions velocity with dry ice!

Vertical Air Solutions

Introducing the new dual 12 inch system that the team has developed for lengths 40 feet and longer. One major point to understand is when using vertical air solutions, you’re getting a system sized to the length of your racking. This ensures that you get a s much airflow as you could ever want at the longer length. Designed by a team having lifetime experience in designing HVAC in the proper configurations for HVAC equipment.

With the new dual 12 inch system at 65 feet long in racking length, the Fog City Farm team is able to create 200+ feet per minute, 36 inches below the system. The method is super efficient, consistent and you’re getting all the airflow you could possible need.

Check out the video below where in the vertical air solutions research and development facility testing some dry ice at about 5 feet below the system to really show how much air is actually moving!

Watch below for more information from James himself!

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Vertical Air Solutions at Tru Infusion

Vertical Farming Tips: Cleaning and Sterilizing with Vertical Air Solutions

Vertical Farming Tips: Cleaning and Sterilizing with Vertical Air Solutions

Vertical Air Solutions at Tru Infusion

James Cunningham, Founder of Fog City Farms, Co-Founder of VAS & Director of Cultivation, shows you how to clean and sanitize the HVAC system in your vertical grow.

Vertical Air Solutions

Cleaning and sanitizing has never been easier! You wouldn’t think that cleaning and sanitizing would be so labor intensive and time consuming. Pipp Horticulture and Vertical Air Solutions listened to the market regarding the need for a more accessible way to clean. The team has made the inside duct work more accessible by removing the end caps, very similar to how you would remove your registers on your HVAC supply. This gives you an ample amount of room to use a duct cleaner and clean the inside of the surface.

When sterilizing in between rounds, facilities can use any sort of airborne or vaporized sterilization system to sterilize your entire facility. The Pipp and VAS team can recommend products for this! This procedure is not only helping save cost and time, but also is thinking towards the future of your facility.

Watch below for more information from James himself!

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image-5

Maximizing Airflow During The Pruning Process

What is pruning and why do you prune cannabis? Pruning is removing cannabis leaves that are damaged or unproductive so that a plant can focus its energies on producing buds. While this may feel counterintuitive, the goal is to make sure that during those first few weeks of flower, when it’s bursting with growth, is to build the foundation of the plant to promote better flower development into the future. But without proper plant management and localized airflow, your canopy can’t thrive during this crucial process.

To gain complete control of airflow during the pruning process to form denser, more cannabinoid-rich buds you need to be able to regulate environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels for more consistent yields. Watch as James Cunningham with Vertical Air Solutions guides us through the pruning process to achieve maximum airflow and light penetration.

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