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 Racks - Grow More

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. 

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 Vertical Cannabis 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

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 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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Elevate Platform System

Keep Things Moving with Pipp Horticulture’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Keep Things Moving with Pipp Horticulture’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Elevate Platform System

It seems like there is never enough space. With the high costs of operating a grow, cultivators need every advantage they can get. So how do you keep more inventory on hand when every inch of your facility floor is occupied? Look up. Vertical grow racks can take advantage of the vast amounts of empty space you otherwise would never utilize.

Pipp Mobile Storage Systems Inc. has manufactured mobile vertical racking systems for decades, and that proved to be the perfect launching pad for Pipp Horticulture, a leading provider of indoor cannabis cultivation racking systems and solutions, which debuted in 2017. Although the company’s national sales manager, Curtis Dadian, admits mobile racking solutions are not a brand-new concept, he is excited about the impact they’re now having on a whole new industry.

“The value proposition or purpose of mobile vertical racking systems has always been simple,” Dadian said. “They dramatically increase storage capacity within a fixed space, providing double or triple capacity compared to static [non-movable] storage equipment. This objective is achieved through the proper design and implementation of a mobile racking system.”

Mobile grow racks eliminate the need for permanent aisles, providing more canopy space for crops and equipment.

“Through the use of well-designed and professionally installed carriage-driven mobile racking systems, aisles can be created throughout a facility when, where, and as needed,” Dadian explained. “This eliminates the need for permanent aisles to remain open at all times while being replaced with additional storage equipment and increased capacity.”

Pipp Mobile Storage Systems Inc. has been in business for more than forty years. The company applied its experience, know-how, and operational resources to designing a product line, especially for indoor cannabis cultivation and processing, which now is offered by Pipp Horticulture.

“Pipp Horticulture offers a full line of products designed for and offered specifically to the cannabis industry,” Dadian said. “This includes our integrated grow tray offering, our unique cultivation racking system — which allows for full pass-through of required equipment such as airflow ducting or continuous trays — our patented [Vertical Air Solutions] airflow system designed to mitigate microclimate issues that can arise in a multi-level grow space, and our Track-Free system, specifically designed for the cannabis cultivator to enable easier and more effective cleaning between harvests.”

Tru Infusion

Because these products are not one-size-fits-all and no two businesses in the cannabis industry are the same, Pipp offers customized solutions to meet unique requirements. Customers are encouraged to take an active role in the design process.

“During the design process, our customers are encouraged to participate in the review and analysis, providing access to the full breadth of the Pipp Hort team including sales, engineering, design, and cultivation professionals,” Dadian said. “We ensure each and every project is a true collaboration, because our goal is to help our customers reach and exceed their goals operationally and financially.”

One of the new products routinely praised by customers is Pipp’s ELEVATE™ Platform System. An obvious drawback to growing overhead is reaching overhead plants. The ELEVATE™ system allows cultivators easy access to the upper levels of their operations.

“Having to service upper grow levels by accessing them with a rolling ladder or lift isn’t thrilling work,” Dadian said. “Welcome ELEVATE™! It’s an integrated catwalk system that is easily installed and just as easily removed, creating a full-length walking platform [aisle] for a team of farmers to more efficiently perform their work, row by row. This product has been extremely well-received and remains in high demand with both existing users of Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Racking Systems and brand new customers.”

Pipp is well-positioned to expand and take things to a whole new level (pardon the pun). The company recently acquired GGS Structures, which offers high-quality commercial greenhouse structures.

“With the addition of the GGS Structures brand, Pipp Horticulture is now able to deliver the full range of cultivation racking and benching equipment regardless of the size of the facility, type of structure, budget, or growing strategy,” Dadian said. “We are extremely excited about this acquisition and have already seen how naturally these two brands complement each other.”

Pipp is far from finished innovating, according to Dadian.

“After nearly fifty years of doing business, we have worked through operational and logistical challenges, established proven partnerships with world-class suppliers, developed an international installation network of resources, and more,” he said. “We look forward to announcing the next cannabis cultivation facility improvement system and family of products, coming to you soon from Pipp Horticulture.”

For full article, visit MG Magazine

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Vertical Farming Cannabis License

8 Important Steps To Take After Receiving Your Commercial Cannabis Grow License

8 Important Steps To Take After Receiving Your Commercial Cannabis Grow License

Vertical Farming Cannabis License

You secured your license. Now what?

As a new operator in an emerging market, it’s important to get to work as soon as you receive your commercial cannabis grow license. This not only helps you stay ahead of your competition, but it also makes sure you are not impacted by regulations that require licensees to be operational within a certain timeframe or risk license forfeiture.

To help you get started with your commercial cannabis grow operation, we put together 8 essential steps to aid your transition from a conceptual business to an operational one.

 

 

Teamwork

#1. Celebrate and Involve Everyone

Securing a commercial cannabis grow license is a huge accomplishment and it’s important to celebrate your hours of hard work. Of course, recognize your team and their efforts, but be sure to also recognize your community as a whole. Establishing a commercial cannabis grow operation in a community will garner both criticism and praise, so it’s beneficial for you to start your business’s residency in the area by thanking the community, recognizing praise, and combating negative criticism.

Consider creating some positive PR with a press release and/or interviews with local or online media outlets, as well as joining your local Chamber of Commerce to start making connections. Now is also a good time to establish a social media presence for your operation if you plan to leverage one. This gives you a place to promote any positive press you create as well as an opportunity to start gaining followers. (Of course, be mindful of social media platform guidelines around posting cannabis content.)

Hyping up your business early, while it’s still in development, gives future customers the opportunity to watch you build your operation, in turn piquing curiosity in them once you officially “go live.” Generating positive buzz is valuable, and will support your future marking initiatives down the road. Once you recognize your team and community, it’s time to turn your attention to becoming operational.

#2. Evaluate Your Plan

In states with heavily contested and litigated merit-based application processes, months to years can pass before licenses are issued. That means from the time you submitted your application to the time you received your license, some things may have changed, so it’s important to evaluate what, if anything, needs to be updated from your initial plan. 

#3. Determine What Other Licenses You May Need

Unfortunately, your commercial cannabis grow license is likely not the only license you need to operate legally in your state. With your plan in place, it’s time to get a firm understanding of what additional licenses and approvals are necessary to commence operations. Each state has different licensing requirements that you can find on their official government cannabis website. You’ll likely need to register your grow operation with whatever agency your state categorizes cultivation under, such as the Department or Office of Agriculture. This registration typically proves your operation is compliant in regards to water quality, waste removal, chemical usage, etc.

Additionally, you may need a business license from the city and county you’re operating within. And if you’re planning on handling the transportation of your product once your business is operational, you’ll want to start working on obtaining that license as well.

To secure any additional licensing, it’s helpful to have the proper paperwork in order. Some documents you may need include:

  • Commercial cannabis grow license
  • EIN letter
  • Business entity operating bylaws, minutes of organizational meeting
  • Any and all agreements with lenders, investors, or landlords

#4. Meet with Regulators, Community Stakeholders, and Gatekeepers

The key players in your community are important to have on your side. These people include your state representatives and the regulators specifically assigned to your license, as well as the mayor, city manager, city council, chief of police, fire chief, and zoning personnel. Remember: Your proposed commercial cannabis grow operation may be the first experience they have with a cannabis business.

Go out of your way to set up meet-and-greets and solicit warm introductions with these stakeholders, including those that may feel less favorable toward your operation. (This is where your Chamber of Commerce connections we mentioned earlier can come in handy.) Also, consider bringing key members of your team with you to these introductions, especially if you’re not planning on being the “face” of the operation. You and your team should take this opportunity to listen, educate, and address any concerns.

Ultimately, the better your relationship with community leadership, the smoother and faster your commercial cannabis grow project will proceed. Consider offering tours, hosting public community awareness events, and providing any opportunity you can to educate anyone willing to learn.

Group of people questions

#5. Make Sure Funding Is Secured

The application phase is often self-funded or supported by a friends-and-family (F&F) round, with construction and operational portions raised once there’s an indication on a license. This can work, but if fundraising doesn’t happen timely or according to plan, it can stall or kill the project.

Ideally, prior to receiving your commercial cannabis grow license, you’ve already negotiated funding, and money can be accessed and deployed based on milestones. Be sure any financial models are representative of the current project and market status with your sources and uses included.

When reviewing your financial models, consider these questions:

  • Is all required capital committed under favorable or at least realistic terms? If not, how much is outstanding?
  • Who are the investors? At what valuation?
  • Are the initial investors willing to invest additional funds with licensing milestones met?
  • Has the valuation gone up now that the license is in hand?

Although fundraising for cannabis can be challenging, more options are available now that institutional lending through local credit unions and smaller banks is more common. There’s also the potential to offset your capital needs through equipment financing, rebates, and participating in incentive programs.

Remember that your business is subject to the 280E tax code, so make sure you plan for that burden when securing financing. Keep in mind that many, if not all, of your licenses will also have annual registration renewal fees.

Pipp Horticulture Cannabis Grow

#6. Narrow Down Design, MEP, and Equipment

Depending on the requirements of your application, you may already have a complete set of facility drawings, or you may only have a basic conceptual design. If you only provided a basic design, it’s time to hire an architect, engineers, and consultants to create a full set of drawings.

Things to consider as you design:

  • Budget
  • Regulated plant capacity/plant count
  • Building or plot size
  • Waste removal process
  • Phased planning (utilizing your current budget with expansion considerations for the future)

 

We suggest hiring experienced cannabis operators as consultants to provide input to the architect and MEP team on room sizing, electrical demands, environmental conditions, water usage, fertilization and irrigation, proposed plant spacing, and the post-harvest process. It’s essential to consult with operators with experience at the scale you’re looking to operate now and in the future.

It’s also important to utilize vendors with a proven track record of success and cannabis-specific experience, like Pipp Horticulture. We provide expertise and guidance gained from working with top commercial cannabis growers across the globe and can help license holders set up and scale any size cannabis grow operation. Cannabis cultivation equipment is massive and needs to stay top of mind when designing your facility.

Grow equipment needs include:

 
Elevate Platform System

#7. Build Your Team

You must be intentional when narrowing down what positions you need to fill and when. Companies often hire a master grower right away even though cultivation may not start for six or more months. Depending on your existing team and current needs, initial hires should focus more on finance, construction, and project management.

 

Sozo Group Shot

Key Internal Hires:

  • Project Manager
  • Owners’ Rep
  • CFO/Controller
  • Operational Advisor

Key External (3rd-Party) Hires:

  • Legal with experience with local building and zoning ordinances and processes
  • Code Consultant
  • Architect experienced in building cannabis facilities
  • MEP team experienced in building cannabis facilities (often referred by architect)

Be sure to create a staffing plan that includes fully-burdened compensation estimates and a timeline for recruiting, hiring, and training.

Leafline Labs Team Cannabis Cultivation
Leafline Labs Team Cannabis Cultivation

#8. Initiate Commissioning Process

In construction, commissioning is the professional process of ensuring all building systems behave correctly and perform interactively according to the Design Intent, or Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR), of the building. Put simply, it’s making sure all building systems are working correctly before initializing operations.

The key persons involved in commissioning include:

  1. Facility Manager/Operations/General Manager
  2. Maintenance Team
  3. Head of Cultivation & Extraction
  4. Head of Manufacturing
  5. Security (internal)

 

This is a great time to identify responsibilities, coordinate, and set up onboarding and training with your team and equipment vendors. We suggest filming as much commissioning and training as possible for your future standard operating procedures (SOPs) and training guides. This process can also help you determine what your requirements will be for future employee applicants.

Conclusion

Securing a commercial cannabis grow license is a serious accomplishment, so be sure to celebrate! But remember that time is of the essence in this rapidly growing industry, so you must get to work as soon as you can.

It’s an overwhelming process, but following these 8 steps can make it go smoother. When you’re ready to start designing, reach out to us at Pipp Horticulture, and our experienced team of indoor cannabis operators and designers will work with you to create an efficient, effective, and high-yielding commercial cannabis grow operation.

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Vertical Mobile Rack System

Converting To a Vertical Farming Facility – 5 Things You Must Know

By Guest Blog Author: Robert Sandow

Single-tier designs were the industry standard when cannabis cultivation took its first steps out of the garage and into the warehouse. At the time, singe-level design made sense. You didn’t want to change what worked, and LED lights weren’t quite “there” yet. Well, times have changed, LED lights are “there” and have been for a while now. 

As the industry and technology have matured, it has become more prudent and profitable to transition to a multi-tiered LED system to stay competitive. This is not something to take lightly, and it’s no wonder that some companies are still slow to make the switch. 

There are a ton of details to think about when making this kind of upgrade, but here are a few key points to ponder while looking upon your single level grow room as you dream about the day you are fully tiered out, maximizing all your available space, and utilizing the latest technology to take your business to the next level!

Flora Terra - Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks
Oakfruitland Vertical Farming

#1. Have a solid plan.

Working collaboratively with PIPP will provide a racking design and layout that sets the foundation for the entire project. From there, consider every detail of daily operations. Get feedback from all department heads. These folks have their boots on the ground and play a vital role in a smooth transition by keeping the rest of the crew on task. Take each person’s strengths and weaknesses into consideration and develop a plan that everyone will understand and get behind. Consider all the impact areas, from propagation to packaging, to develop solutions to mitigate bottlenecks. 

Some critical questions include: How many plants are needed for the new design? When will you need to ramp up your propagation department or clone orders to meet those numbers? What are your increased nutrient quantities, and when to order? How much labor will you need to complete the care of the additional plants? Which Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will need to be adjusted, and someone who must be identified to update them? Usually, the switch to multi-tier happens immediately after harvest to finish before the next flip. Be sure to consider your specific facility’s needs and production plan while evaluating options to install. The main goal is to get back up and running by quickly addressing anything that slows the process down. Being proactive and solving problems help keep things moving. Try to be as upbeat and as supportive as you can. Transitions are an opportunity to create a positive team-building experience.

 

#2. Make a checklist for each department.

This is a great time to have each department head create a list of needs for increased production, plant care, harvest, and post-harvest processing. The first checklist will be construction needs. Make sure you have every item you need onsite before the switch date, from brackets to hang the lights to the zip ties to button it all together. Getting caught halfway through a transition without enough bolts, wire, or tools will result in costly, unwanted delays. A week before the switch, utilize your checklist and do a run-through with your key people. Ensure everyone knows what they should be doing, go over any remaining questions, and make sure all supplies are on hand. Have everything accessible and sorted in the order you need it so you won’t need to search. 

Many hands make lite work, so don’t forget to account for enough tools for everyone to use, especially if you have more than one person on the same project. Be prepared to have your crew do prep work while waiting for the contractors to finish installing the new infrastructure. Anything you can do beforehand will save you time when it counts, from pre-making irrigation dripper lines to unboxing and prepping all your lights to hang. Create a journal and document day-to-day events to utilize efficiencies for the next room or project. 

#3. Account for the increase in environmental and infrastructure needs.

Do you have enough power, water, drainage, and staff? You will be doubling or tripling everything from the amount of water flowing through the system to the number of plants you need to move and harvest. When designing the irrigation system, having multiple zones helps you tightly control your watering events allowing you to stagger watering. Doing so can prevent overwhelming your drains with the increased volume of water. Be proactive with ensuring proper airflow through multiple canopies. This will be one of your biggest challenges for growers to adjust to, as the room is now 3-dimensional, heat rises, and stagnant zones can become serious problems. PIPP has already tackled this problem through the system designed by its subsidiary Vertical Air Solutions, one of the best airflow products for managing the airflow in your multi-tiered system. Dialing in the environment becomes slightly more difficult when you add multiple levels; utilizing sensors throughout each level will help you quickly dial in your VPD and will easily pay for itself in short order.

#4. Anticipate the difference between growing under HPS vs. LED.

You can run the room a little warmer with an LED because the lights run cooler and are less stressful on the plants. Cleanouts are a little different as well. Since LED lights don’t penetrate as deep as the older HPS lights, removing fan leaves earlier (ideally before day 18 of flower) will help lower bud sites get light while giving the plant enough time to fill back in. Foliar feeding the increased number of plants can be a challenge and usually involves the usage of OSHA-approved ladders or scaffolding to spray the upper levels. Using foggers for application is an option, but make sure your sensors and lights won’t be damaged!

#5. Be proactive in training your staff on equipment, ladder, and scaffold usage.

Proper use of spray equipment is essential when utilizing OSHA-approved ladders and scaffolding. Working at height exposes you to more hazards than single-tier growing, but proper training can reduce incidents. Anything dropped from a height onto someone below could be harmful, and scissors are especially problematic. Make sure staff keep the tops of ladder and scaffolding clear of anything and utilize a sensible scaffolding system for your space. PIPP racking has designed a great platform system called ELEVATE that integrates seamlessly with their racks, eliminating many safety concerns and saving you time with easy setup and takedown.
 
Sozo Vertical Farming
Tru Infusion with Pipp Horticulture

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Finding the Best Grow Tray for Your Cultivation Facility

Grow trays might be a second thought when selecting supplies and equipment for your cultivation space. But the wrong choice could result in broken equipment or pathogen friendly growing environment. Grow trays are vital to every cannabis grow and in this article we’ll review the different options and their pros and cons.

Cannabis grow trays are offered in various levels of quality and format. As with most things in life, investing in something that will last and provide a clean, safe environment for your plants pays off.

What is a Grow Tray?

 

Grow trays are molded containers that are designed to hold plants and enable easy and efficient irrigation. They are typically long, rectangular, and shallow. The most common dimensions for grow trays are 4’ x 8’.

Grow trays were certainly not invented for the modern-day cannabis industry. They have been used in greenhouse settings since the 18th century in North America. Some believe that Chinese farmers were cultivating cannabis in grow trays as far back as 500 BCE or even earlier.

While plant-growing trays are a common item on every cultivation facility’s supply list, it’s worth reevaluating the quality and value of trays you might be purchasing at local stores. The materials used in manufacturing the trays have a big impact on their performance and contribution to the growing environment.

Two Irrigation Methods

 

Irrigation in outdoor gardens is different from the methods we describe below, which are ideal for greenhouse or indoor gardens. Here is an overview of the main two ways grow trays are utilized in cannabis cultivation facilities:

Drain to Waste

One of the most common indoor cultivation setups is called Drain to Waste. The grow trays hold the plant containers which connect to numerous irrigation lines. A reservoir pumps nutrient solution to the trays and the lines release it to the tops of the plants. The solution drips through the plant medium, feeding the roots, and flows out the bottom of the plant containers. This run-off is then drained from the trays to ensure there’s no standing water in the trays that can be a host to many issues in the grow facility.

Fostering healthy root systems is vital to increasing yields. Placing several drip lines onto each plant ensures that the nutrient solution drains through the plant’s roots evenly and thoroughly. The entire surface area of the plant’s grow medium should be moistened. The faster the grow media drains, the more emitters the drip system will need.

Ebb and Flow

A less commonly used approach in commercial indoor cultivation is the ebb and flow method. Similar to the ways the ocean ebbs and flows on the shore, this method periodically floods the grow tray. The roots are fully flooded each time from the bottom, while Drain to Waste is a slow drip to the top of the grow medium. A drainage hole at the bottom of the trays brings water back to the reservoir where it can go through filtration and treatment to be used again.

Challenges with Low Quality Trays

 

Cutting costs when it comes to grow trays can mean increased costs down the road. A healthy grow environment stems from multiple factors, including the materials and equipment used in the setup. Below are some major challenges associated with growing plant trays:

Sagging

Low cost trays are often thinner to save on manufacturing costs. When they are loaded with cannabis plants, they often sag or bow, which causes water to pool. Standing water is a grower’s nightmare. It can attract pests and encourage mold, bacteria or fungus to take hold.

Cracking

Over time, exposure to UV radiation can degrade plastic trays that were not made with special UV-stabilized plastic material. These trays have a shorter shelf life and can become brittle and crack. A chalky appearance and color shift on the surface are indicators of degradation.

Cracks lead to leaks and a host of added problems, like standing water on the floor and mold or microbial issues.

Sanitization Challenges

Between every round, cultivators sanitize their facility and the tables and trays in the grow rooms. With repeated scrubbing and cleaning, cheap plastic grow trays will bend, warp, or crack. Investing in grow trays manufactured of a more durable material affords long-term use and ability to withstand repeated vigorous cleanings.

Lack of Integration

Grow trays aren’t made to fit all cannabis facility designs and growing spaces. This is especially true for vertical farming operations. Purchasing trays produced by the same vendor that manufactured the vertical racking systems will ensure a proper fit and seamless integration with other equipment like HVAC and lights.

Pipp’s Top of the Line Grow Trays

Our cannabis industry product line is manufactured using the highest quality materials and manufacturing processes. With the expertise of industry mavens, we’ve designed superior grow trays and vertical racking systems. Below are the different grow trays that we manufacture, right here in the USA.

ABS Combo Grow Trays

ABS is a thermoplastic polymer typically used for injection molding. The benefits of ABS trays are that they provide UV-stability, make cleanup very easy, and are extremely durable.

Pipp’s ABS Combo Grow Trays provide the best balance of cost and performance, as they can be used for both drip-to-drain or ebb and flow irrigation styles. These grow trays are designed to sit level to provide cannabis plants with a flat growing surface. A network of sloped canals within the ABS Combo Grow Trays ensures proper drainage.

Our ABS Trays have a proprietary coating with anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Investing in trays that have been treated in this specific way helps prevent issues that impact crop production and business profitability.

GHI Aluminum Grow Trays

Aluminum trays are a bigger investment, but they are corrosion resistant throughout the tray’s life. They have a robust aluminum construction with great durability and a reflective white powder coat finish that absorbs or wastes very little light.

Pipp’s GHI (Greenhaus Industries) Aluminum Grow Trays are one of the only aluminum grow trays a commercial cultivator will find suitable for a large-scale operation. Built-in slopes allow run-off to move efficiently to drain fittings, while integral supports provide attachment points for lights and HVAC. The 1” pilot hole pattern allows simple attachment of any accessory.

GHI Aluminum Grow trays can be used for either drip to drain or ebb and flow
irrigation styles and are also treated with our anti-microbial and anti-fungal coating.

Finding a Quality Grow Tray

 

At Pipp Horticulture, we know our business. Our innovative products have been designed in partnership with cannabis growers and engineered in-house. Only through first-hand cultivation tech experience and leading manufacturing practices were we able to develop and produce our grow tray offerings. Given the many vulnerabilities and challenges of lower quality grow trays, Pipp’s ABS Corrugated or Aluminum Grow Trays stand out.

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featss

How Pipp Mobile Storage Systems Grew Into The Horticulture Industry

 
 

Written by Karen Lloyd, Maximum Yield

Pipp Mobile Storage Systems thought it would breeze into the cannabis space, take direction from growers, and roll with flow. But that wasn’t exactly the case for North America’s largest provider of mobile shelving and storage solutions. In 2017, vertical farming hadn’t yet been dialed into perfection and Pipp realized, rather quickly, the legal cannabis industry was new territory for everyone.

“Our customers were looking to us to help guide the process, determine proper work-flow, spacing, elevation, plant density, and other key elements that are affected by or attached to our racking systems,” says Pipp’s sales management team.

Pipp entered the horticulture space with nearly 40 years of experience in the retail industry. As a business that has traditionally selected a single market to serve and lead, the team says Pipp hit the jackpot with the horticulture industry. The Walker, Michigan-based company didn’t wait long to get schooled in the world of growing. Pipp attended seminars, acquainted itself with appropriate suppliers, dropped into trade shows, hired experienced growers, and developed a green thumb of its own.

“The horticulture space demands focused attention to detail, deep analysis, continual improvement, innovation, corporate strength and staying power,” says the team. “These requirements speak directly to the attributes that embody Pipp Mobile Storage Systems, Inc., and now Pipp Horticulture.”

Pipp’s mobile vertical grow racks and Greenhaus grow tray systems allow cultivators to increase production by maximizing their cubic canopy footprint without increasing the square footprint of the growing room or building. Designed to meet the requirements of each and every specific customer and project, racks can be built up to 56 feet long and 23 feet high.

Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks - Vertical Farming

Pipp’s vertical grow racks also incorporate:

• Mobile carriages

• A drive system

• Vertical rack structures

• Integrated grow trays

• Airflow components

• Anchorage

• Anti-tip features

• Catwalk platforms

• Ladders

Pipp Horticulture is on a neverending mission of continual product improvement and advancement and has been awarded several U.S. patents for its technological innovations.

A Vision for Vertical Farming

Advancements in technologies will continue to push the horticultural industry forward and further expand its reach. The future is bright for growers and Pipp sees tremendous growth ahead rooted in what indoor cultivation will mean to families, cities, and the world. Vertical farming maximizes production, reduces operating costs, and increases overall revenue per square foot by as much as three times.

“People will be accessing and consuming fresher and healthier foods, while new employment opportunities will present in major cities previously unable to cultivate locally,” says Pipp’s sales team. “The possibilities are limitless, and we are humbled to have a place in it all.”

When it comes to vertical farming there have always been two primary dilemmas: rails on the floor and servicing upper levels. To address these high-demand concerns, Pipp designed a new TRAK-FREE Carriage System as well as a mobile elevated platform. “We see horticulture, indoor cultivation and processing, specifically, as the future for our organization and we are committed to hitting the ball out of the park for our customers, suppliers, employees and all who we serve.”

Pipp’s TRAK-FREE Carriage System leaves a smooth surface with no bumps or barriers to maneuver over between racking rows while the company’s ELEVATE Platform System enables cultivators to walk freely along upper grow levels without being hindered by rolling ladders or scaffolding. All Pipp rails are thoughtfully designed and meet ADA compliance standards.

The sales management team says the company won’t release a product or product feature without an extensive factory and client beta site testing. Although Pipp’s entry point into the horticultural industry was through the cannabis market, the company didn’t want to limit Pipp Horticulture to any specific cultivation or plant processing category. Instead, the company looks forward to building and developing solutions for all growers.

Green By Nature

The cubic space utilization of Pipp mobile systems is, by nature, a greenfriendly phenomena. Less space, electricity, lighting, water, gas and other critical resources are needed due to the efficient use of space. “Pipp is committed to being a green friendly supplier in the horticulture space,” says the sales team. The company’s recycled content for steel and aluminum products is an industryleading 66 percent while the majority of its packaging materials come from recycled materials.

Additionally, Pipp Horticulture offers LEED certification assistance to each and every customer. With hundreds of projects on the go and completed installations under its belt, Pipp’s knowledge base only continues to grow. The company’s in-house team now includes professional engineers, CAD designers, sales support, and experienced operators to provide partners with outstanding support before and after installation. “This is not a micromanaging culture, but rather a highly committed team that respects one another and understands that our individual performances affect and benefit the group, including our customers, as a whole,” says the sales team. “We are dealing with and affecting a living product that moves to its own schedule, not ours. Because of this, our performance is essential, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Stay tuned as Pipp Horticulture continues to enhance its current offering and create new products to improve plant health, operational efficiencies, and environmental benefits for cultivation facilities worldwide.

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Pipp Horticulture Introduces New ELEVATE™ Platform System

Pipp Horticulture (a division of Pipp Mobile Storage Systems, Inc.), a leading provider of space‐saving, multi‐level mobile cultivation systems, announced the new ELEVATE™ Platform System that will be readily available for cultivators to purchase. The ELEVATE™ Platform System is a robust, lightweight, and portable deck to allow cultivators to access PIPP’s Multi-Tier Mobile Grow Racks quickly, efficiently, and most importantly – safely.

“As the leading provider of Mobile Vertical Grow Rack Systems, we took it as our personal mission to solve one of vertical farming’s primary challenges – how to access the upper levels. We continually challenge ourselves to focus on innovation and developing products with the goal of enhancing our customer’s performance. We formed a dedicated team of in‐house experts, consisting of engineers and experienced cultivators to develop our patent‐pending ELEVATE™ Platform System. ELEVATE™ is a modular catwalk system that creates an entire full-length walking and working aisle platform allowing cultivators to quickly and safely service the upper levels of their grow.” said Craig Umans, President and CEO of Pipp.

The ELEVATE™ Platform System is a modular catwalk system and was designed to integrate with PIPP’s Bulk Rack Shelving Systems without any modifications and can be installed on new or existing mobile vertical grow racks.

Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System
Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System
Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System
Freedom Green Farms - ELEVATE™ Platform System

 

Get Higher With Pipp’s ELEVATE™ Platform System and Learn More NOW:

*Patent-Pending

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NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT: TRAK-FREE™ CARRIAGE

For the past several years, Pipp Horticulture’s mission has been to help cultivators across the globe save time and money by creating a more efficient grow facility and helping streamline operations. Pipp has not only developed a product line that was purposefully designed to serve the cannabis cultivation market, but they added experienced cultivators and industry experts to their team to continuously improve upon their services and develop products that positively affect canopy output and facility operations.

While focusing on this mission, and in an effort to meet a wider range of customer requirements and price points, Pipp engineered their new, patent-pending TRAK FREE™ Carriage System. The revolutionary advancement of the TRAK-FREE™ Carriage System is the single guide rail along the back of the system, rather than multiple tracks in the walkway. This system not only saves time and money on materials and installation, but also helps cultivators: improve efficiencies of standard operating procedures and safety measures, reduce potential floor impediments, and effortlessly move other necessary equipment like carts, racks, and ladders around the grow room.

Click below to learn more about the  TRAK-FREE™  Mobile  Carriage  System!

 

 

 

 

*Patent-Pending

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Vertical Grow Room Design: How to Service the Upper Levels of Your Grow

Vertical farming is the future of innovative agriculture globally. In fact, vertical farming may play a role in meeting the ever-growing need for food. Due to this increased demand for vertical farming, your vertical grow room design and setup are continually becoming more important.

Indoor cannabis growers can all agree on one thing: electricity is expensive! Some places in the country like Humboldt County are known for their sun-grown flower. But growers in other locations don’t have the luxury of growing outdoors. Whether it’s due to climate or local regulations, many growers in the regulated cannabis market are forced to grow indoors.

Vertical farming increases your total canopy area and increases your total yield while decreasing the average cost per pound.

Every grow operation is unique and requires a customized installation and vertical grow room design. What works for one cannabis cultivator may not necessarily work the same way for the next. Location, building structure, size, locality, local laws, local climate weather patterns, OSHA compliance, and SEISMIC compliance, are just a few factors to consider.

Types of Vertical Setups

Vertical farms and a vertical grow system can be set up in all kinds of facilities, ranging from warehouses, large buildings, storage containers and mobile grow boxes. But all of them really fall under two basic categories: true vertical and stacked vertical.

True Vertical

In true vertical farming, you’ll see the plants growing out of the side of a column, with all the nutrients and water dripping top down. Organic kale, lettuce, and other greens are commonly grown in true vertical farms. There are many different variations of this method, but all of them have the same goal in mind.

Stacked Vertical

Stacking grow trays above each other is known as stacked vertical farming. Because space is a concern both vertically and horizontally, you’ll want to keep the plants topped and defoliated, so that they remain short and stubby. Some strains and cultivars are better fitted for indoor grow operations than others.

Vertical grows should be wise in selecting which genetics to deploy. The best-yielding vertical farms grow phenos that are naturally short with big, heavy buds. They also tend to have fewer leaves, requiring less hands-on defoliation. However, some experienced growers do grow taller strains as well. Technically, you could grow just about any strain of cannabis or hemp in a vertical farm setup.

Stacked Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Benefits Of Vertical Growing

So why is vertical farming such a big deal in the cannabis cultivation world? It’s because it allows growers to experience:

  • Reduced air conditioning costs
  • Reduced heating costs
  • Decreased energy consumption
  • Doubled or tripled yields
  • Reduced water usage
  • Reduced fertilizer usage
  • Decreased cycle time
  • Decrease in overall cost per pound

Vertical Farming In Every Stage Of Your Grow

Vertical farming has profound applications in four major areas.

Nursery

You’ll want to consider the flow of your space in the early stages of your design phase. Begin by itemizing all of the fixtures, including HVAC, drains, sprinklers, electric panels, doors, overhead emergency lights, and pipes.

If you’re designing a new space or upgrading one to vertical racking, it’s a good idea to keep an open design on a final location like a wall or door. The goal is to maximize your canopy, given all the obstacles and objects in the room.

You may not always need door relocation. However, adjusting the location of the door may prove to be beneficial not just for maximizing canopy yield, but also for improved safety and workplace ergonomics.

Cultivation

 

In order to efficiently design your cultivation layout, you’ll need to consider things like:

  • Type of grow space
  • Desired number of grow tiers
  • Types of trays
  • Height between racks
  • Critical wall dimensions
  • Doors, egress paths, columns
  • Electrical panels
  • Ceiling height
  • Light height
  • Type of flooring
  • Any other obstructions
Cannabis Trimming

Drying & Curing

Top growers know that the drying and curing stage is crucial to delivering top-notch products that have realized their full genetic potential.

Drying carts are a crucial part of your process and can really help streamline your workflow. They are specially designed for hanging your plants to dry and come with special finger attachments.

 

Storage

Shelf carts are great for both storing and transporting your product. The levels are completely adjustable and you can easily add more shelves as needed.

Combo carts bring the best of both worlds by providing exclusive hanging attachments for drying and adjustable shelves below for storage and transport. Now that we’ve covered the different types of vertical farm setups, the benefits, applications, and storage, let’s move on to servicing the upper levels.

How Do You Service the Upper Levels?

This is one of the most common questions we get. It’s important to have full access to the upper levels so that all the plants in your facility get the exact same scrutinous eye and nurturing hands. You don’t want pests, mold, or anything else to creep up on you if the top level of your vertical system can’t be seen or accessed.

The NEW Elevate™ Platform System is a robust, lightweight, and portable deck to allow cultivators to access PIPP’s Multi-Tier Mobile Grow Racks quickly, efficiently, and most importantly – safely.

Pipp’s latest innovation, the Elevate™ Platform System, features the following:

  • Quick and simple setup with more time available to care for plants and less time spent preparing your workspace.
  • Lightweight components allow one person to set up the entire system. Two people make it a breeze.
  • Aluminum and Galvanized steel components for great corrosion resistance.

Safety is a big concern for any commercial operator. Ensuring workers have easy access to the plants while also minimizing their reach and risk of fall is crucial for owners and managers running a tight ship.

Cost is another factor for commercial grow looking to optimize their facility and introduce vertical racks. How to service those upper levels becomes a decision between cost, efficiency, and scale. The simplest option will be the cheapest, yet it will require more labor hours to move between the rows and levels. The higher-cost option is the most automated, yet the most expensive.

We’ve covered how to access the upper levels, so now let’s move on to the tools used to do this. There are three major types: ladders, rolling scaffolding, and lifts.

Ladders

Ladders, while simple, is a bit more challenging to use in vertical farming.

Because they do not provide a flat working space, they can make things less ergonomic.

The taller the ladder, the wider it has to be to allow for ease of movement. Platform ladders are good for when workers need to spend long periods of time in one particular spot on the ladder.

Platform ladders come with a rail guard, located at the top. This helps stabilize the user while accessing the upper levels. It also allows the user to free up both hands, in order to focus on the work. Some of the platform ladders even come with castors that make it easier to move from one area to the next.

 

Most store-bought ladders will be OSHA-compliant too.

Vertical Farming at Redbud Roots

Rolling Scaffolding

While ladders are the least expensive option, rolling scaffolding or platforms are a bit more costly. The advantage of using scaffolding is that you can easily move from room to room. Workers who have to change their position on a frequent basis would benefit from rolling scaffolding.

Leafline Labs Team Cannabis Cultivation

Lifts

Lifts are another option, however, they are usually the most expensive solution for accessing and working at those higher levels. However, if your grow is larger in scale and demands that workers spend long periods of time at the upper levels, then lifts may be a better option.

Lifts can be manually operated or motorized. Pricing varies greatly, depending on your selected options. If you have two tiers or more, lifts can offer the greatest amount of efficiency for your space and workforce.

For a three and four-level grow operation, lifts are typically necessary. Lifts can be moved while a person is still on the equipment. Instead of climbing down to move the equipment and climb back up, lifts save a ton of time. They are also usually better powered but will need recharging after use.

While there are several different choices available, you’ll probably want to contact a PIPP design/installation professional in order to help you determine which option is right for you. This can assist you in making an informed decision that best fits your facility’s needs.

 This can assist you in making an informed decision that best fits your facility’s needs.
Vertical Farming
Some Tips To Keep In Mind

Figuring out how to design and oversee vertical grow can be a bit overwhelming. However, you don’t have to go at it alone. No matter what route you choose, there are key fundamentals to any vertical farm grow setup.

  1. When deciding on the best options for your grow facility, you’ll need to weigh the cost of the solution versus the efficiencies the solution offers. But keep in mind, worker efficiency is crucial to the old adage “time is money”.
  2. Typically, the more efficient a solution, the higher its cost. You may want to consider doing timed studies with employees to get a handle on how much time may be spent inefficiently using one solution over another. This will help you determine the right cost-benefit solution for you.
  3. Also, you’ll want to be sure that whatever solution you decide fits from an ergonomic standpoint. You don’t want to fatigue your employees or put them in unsafe working conditions. The best solution will allow one to stand comfortably and minimize time spent bending over or working in a stretched position.
  4. The best solutions include the storage of tools needed to access the upper levels. Your workers should experience a safe and easy transition from one tool to the next in the course of their work.
  5. Lastly, safety should always be a priority. Because no two grow operations are the same, setups can differ and solutions need to be customized. Bars and safety rails help provide security to workers. And high density grow racks come equipped with a locking mechanism that secures its position while people are working on the equipment.
Leafline Labs Team Cannabis Cultivation

Wrap-Up Conclusion

 

Vertical farming is the future for indoor cannabis growers. As a cultivation

business scales and increases its square footage or room numbers, facility design can become more complex.

Growing indoors is an expensive venture, but one that can produce incredible results, both with the quality of cannabis and profits.

While you want to maximize your growth and profits, you also want to minimize hassles and costs.

Interested in seeing how much revenue you could be making with vertical farming? Enter your facility’s current canopy space, production metrics, and sales price to see how much you could be making when you upgrade your indoor farm to PIPP Horticulture’s Cannabis Grow Racks! 

Cannabis Grow Room Yield Calculator

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Designing Your Grow Room: Top Tips From Industry Experts

Join Pipp Horticulture, Fluence Bioengineering and Vertical Air Solutions as they dive into the cannabis side of vertical farming. From vertical grow room facility design and technology considerations to the importance of an integrated approach, watch as the cultivation experts discuss the necessary tools to grow in 2020 and beyond. 

 

Interested in seeing how much revenue you could be making with vertical farming? Enter your facility’s current canopy space, production metrics, and sales price to see how much you could be making when you upgrade your indoor farm to PIPP Horticulture’s Cannabis Grow Racks! 

Cannabis Yield Calculator

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