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Evolution of Indoor Vertical Farming Webinar with MJBizDaily

Evolution of Indoor Vertical Farming Webinar with MJBizDaily

Trulieve

The Past, Present & Future

What does evolution mean? One definition of evolution is the gradual development of something, specifically from a simple to a more complex form. As humans, we grow to adapt and change to our environment. As we see the effects of climate change slowly integrating into our daily lives, we must start thinking ahead and change how we operate.

The adaptation of indoor vertical farming has become the new norm for many growing operations. Primarily due to the success of allowing cultivators to maximize their production capability, reduce operating costs, and increase their overall revenue per square foot. Utilizing vertical racking systems has further enhanced the efficiency of indoor vertical farming, providing a space-efficient solution for optimal plant growth. Additionally, incorporating vertical air solutions has proven to be instrumental in maintaining an ideal growing environment, contributing to the overall success of indoor vertical farming operations.

Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation, and Anders Peterson, Cannabis Operations Specialist, recently presented a webinar with MJBizDaily where the team discussed the Evolution of Vertical Farming. From the early adoption of multi-tier nurseries by legacy growers to the cutting-edge vertical farms of today, viewers gained valuable insights into the progression of vertical farming equipment and designs and our predictions for the future.

Brief History of Vertical Farming

Today’s vertical farming is a relatively new concept, yet we’ve seen people use aspects of vertical farming for thousands of years. The first example of vertical farming dates back almost 2600 years ago to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Anders explains the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as “a man-made oasis in the middle of the desert, almost 60 feet tall, with advanced irrigation systems that could pump water 60 feet into the air to plants from around the world.” While just 1000 years ago, we learned that the Aztecs used floating gardens called chinampa. These gardens were one of the first hydroponic raft-style forms of agriculture, correlating to a technique of the Iroquois and the Cherokee use, referred to as three sisters or three sisters’ agriculture.

By 1915, an American geologist, Gilbert Bailey, coined Vertical Farming and studied an alternative way to increase farm area and produce quality crops. The events of World War One drove this experiment – with Gilbert creating a way to grow plants underground. By “blasting holes into the ground, with low-cost explosives produced during World War One, and growing plants underground in tunnels,” created a way to “protect them, shield them from the war, and locate them closer to dense urban areas.” Modern vertical farming concepts were developed by the 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War. Many greenhouse and hydroponic systems were introduced and developed during this time.

In the 1990s, Columbia Professor Dickson Despommier, the father of modern vertical farming, “saw vertical farming as the answer to bringing food production closer to the consumers and reducing the carbon footprint, increasing sustainability,” Anders explains. Professor Dickson was interested in learning about New York and how we can help feed dense urban areas. For nine years, he taught experiments at Columbia on how to run calculations and scenarios of how tall skyscrapers would need to be for vertical farming. How many people could we feed if we planted food on every rooftop across New York? The experiments and concepts created then would evolve into what we see today.

How Cannabis Legalization Spurred

Adoption & Innovation

In the early 2010s, Vertical Farming was discussed and implemented into modern farms for non-cannabis crops but had not yet been adopted for cannabis. Anders explains, “It wasn’t until we saw adult-use cannabis legalization around 2014 in Colorado that the innovation kicked off and started to surge.” Due to the cannabis crop having a high value, growers were used to growing indoors due to the prohibition. They had a very high value and margin, allowing for innovation in the market.

From 2010 to 2015, more grow room designs were static, single-tier benches with HPS lights. Once 2013-2015 came along, we started seeing growers looking at horticulture systems and practices, adopting these practices, and having access to vendors and technology. From 2015 to 2018 – Larger racking manufacturers began entering the space. Pipp Horticulture joined the horticulture space in 2017 with our first indoor multi-level mobile vertical racking system. This system was installed in flower rooms at Fog City FarmsBy the end of 2018, Pipp had 40 installed locations. Now Pipp Horticulture has quickly become the industry-leading provider of Mobile Vertical Growing Solutions with installations in 45 states/provinces, 450 facilities, and over 2,500 grow rooms worldwide.

Progression of Vertical Racking Designs

One significant change to the vertical farming industry was the introduction of Fluence, an LED lighting company. They created their first Spyder light with a low profile, no fans, and a full spectrum white light LED, grabbing much attention from cultivators. Michael explains, “A common theme for the most significant limiting factor for good yields, plant health, and phenotypic expression in these rooms was a lack of environmental controls. We saw an industry shift within 2020-2022 where the ancillary equipment and services innovation showed significant improvement.“ We now see HVAC systems with integrated hot gas, reheat, and dehumidification much better suited for the indoor vertical farming space. 

Anders explains, “in terms of modulating controls, and sensors, they’re not running off thermostats on the wall; they’re running off canopy sensors in the room. We also started seeing purpose-built in-rack airflow systems, such as Vertical Air Solutions.After the first double-stacked mobile vertical racking system was installed in Fog City Farms, James Cunningham quickly realized he needed a purpose-built airflow solution to move air through the canopy of the multi-level racks. James and his partner, Matt Bogner, created Vertical Air Solutions, which provides increased, consistent airflow control while integrating filtration and CO2 delivery.  

As the indoor vertical farming industry continues to advance with discoveries and lessons learned from prior trials, the following questions come to mind “how do we make the labor more efficient? How do we make employees happier working in a multi-tier room” while also advancing in “the developments in the racks themselves?” Anders brings up the TRAK-FREE™ Carriage System, having the option to remove tracks on the floor for a more flexible work environment while also developing the ELEVATE® Platform System, allowing easy access to the top tiers of your vertical farm. Michael, who was involved in the development of the ELEVATE® Platform System, when touring facilities has asked who has adopted the platform system and how it’s helped their daily operations. Their answer almost every time is, “Game Changer.” Instead of having one row to service and one side of the canopy to utilize, growers can now run two of the ELEVATE® Platform Systems on the “canopy that they’re working on, putting workers on both sides. It dramatically reduces tasks while improving safety and ergonomics,” Michael states.

Where We Are Today

Where are we today with cannabis? “Much more competitive as more markets are opening,” Anders states. Production is at an all-time high in many mature states bringing the price per pound lower. What is the trick to the market today? Efficiency. Anders brings up that “a common thing discussed today in vertical farming facilities and single tier facilities is quantifying the performance metrics of these facilities.” Cultivators are now looking at a vertical approach. Michael brings up all the factors involved with a new build, “new facility, a new state, new laws, new building, new equipment, new team, new LED lighting; it takes a while to understand new technology. People have had time to work out the mistakes made and are now pushing the envelope of what’s possible. Growers are finding the balance of the design, and builders are figuring out the balance of how to build inside these systems.” Seeing an increase in yield metrics today. Anders states, “We’ve built enough facilities to learn these lessons.”

Prediction for the Future

We now see lessons learned in the cannabis industry translating to the non-cannabis sector. Non-cannabis vertical farm applications to consider would be leafy greens, strawberries, and herbs. As Anders would say, “closing the loop coming full circle to where we started.” Locating facilities closer to dense urban areas limits the food distance of transportation. We’re now seeing a move to indoor vertical farming in the Middle East, growing vertically in Abu Dhabi and Dubai due to climate and moving the plants from where they’re grown to where the consumers are, growing these plants at a much lower cost all year round. Michael states, “People realize today, more than ever, how unstable our food supply chain is. With our ever-growing population, some really difficult challenges exist to overcome.”

As far as cannabis and predictions for the future, technology keeps advancing and can be taken advantage of in the indoor cultivation market. Michael predicts, “Between the implementation of AI and robotics that exists today, I anticipate that you’ll be able to call trays from whatever tier, whatever room, whatever level, and a robot will go grab those for you, bring those to a centralized headhouse or processing building, where workers will be basically in line.” Those workers in the headhouse could even be automated robotics. Limiting the number of times we touch plants helps limit the spread of diseases. Humans tend to be the spreaders of pests. The more we can keep human interaction to a minimum, the fewer pesticides used and fewer diseases and pests spread. Because of this automation, Michael states, “We’ll start seeing more tiers in cannabis going higher, even more vertically, occupying that cubic footage.” Also, with the federal banking reform, cannabis operators have “more traditional access to capital and loans. This will help spur the next phase in the evolution of vertical farming.”

In Conclusion

In conclusion, vertical farming has come a long way over the years. It has evolved rapidly due to various factors, such as technological advancements in indoor vertical racking designs, cannabis legalization, and the efforts of companies like Pipp. The history of vertical farming has shown that it has the potential to advance how we grow our food, and it has already started to impact urban areas significantly. Pipp Horticulture has been at the forefront of this evolution of vertical farming, offering innovative solutions to improve the efficiency and sustainability of indoor vertical farming.

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Dispensary Storage

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Cannabis Dispensary Storage

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Cannabis Dispensary Storage

Dispensary Storage

Make the Most of Your Space!

When it comes to cannabis retail, there can be many obstacles to face even before opening your doors to your first patient. Sooner than later, you might run out of storage space with all your inventory and rising cannabis brands in the industry. Where will these products all go? Dispensary storage is no different than general retail storage, and mobile shelving is the preferred storage method for most of the nation’s top retailers. Pipp has dominated the retail storage industry for over 40 years, helping retailers maximize stockroom storage space and finding innovative ways to keep the area clean and organized.

Below we have compiled a list of mistakes to avoid with your dispensary storage to help you stay ahead in this rising, fast-paced industry.

1. Brand Positioning in Back-of-House

MISTAKE: Unorganized Back-of-House

Clear organization is essential in keeping the back-of-house free from cluttering. Consistent and clear brand representation throughout the dispensary is necessary to create a cohesive and memorable customer experience. Before starting, dispensaries should clearly understand what message they want to communicate to their customers and with the brands they carry.

 

SOLUTION: Use Storage Systems to Access Items

Using a well-thought-out storage system to access brand-specific products will allow quick inventory access. Utilizing shelving units with individual storage compartments or shelves for each brand will allow for dedicated and easy-to-manage brand locations. Our Back-of-House Secured Mobile Storage solutions are available in various configurations to meet your cannabis-secured storage goals. They are suited for dispensaries using labeled bins or boxes to store items from each brand separately.

2. Architecture & Construction

MISTAKE: Not Enough Storage Space When First Designing

Cannabis dispensaries running out of storage may face several challenges, including stocking popular products, decreased sales, and potential regulatory issues. It is crucial for dispensaries to carefully manage their inventory and storage space for cannabis to ensure they can meet customer demand and comply with local regulations.

“When I managed a dispensary, the biggest challenge for us by far was not having enough secured storage. We had to order smaller quantities until we retrofitted the secure storage room (vault) to accommodate more products. The regulations from state to state varied greatly on secure product storage for cannabis, making it difficult to find the right compliant solution for us; it required talking to an expert who understood the technical specs.”

Anders Peterson, Cannabis Operations Specialist at Pipp Horticulture.

SOLUTION: Working with Pipp to Maximize Square Footage Design

Consider Secured Storage or a Mobile Storage System to maximize square footage in small spaces. You can design and construct your area to incorporate built-in storage solutions such as robust pry-resistant doors, a fully welded closed tube frame, a three-point rod locking mechanism, tamper-proof hardware, and our secured storage options.

Secured storage provides more space and helps keep inventory protected and organized while storing more goods in a fixed space. Storage capacity increases can range from 35 to 50 percent utilizing high-density mobile shelving.

If increased storage capacity isn’t the goal, an additional advantage of choosing high-density mobile shelving is to decrease the overall storage footprint in your store. Mobile shelving allows for a specific amount of marijuana storage in a smaller space, freeing up other square footage for selling floors or other elements needed in the store.

3. Organization for Inventory

MISTAKE: Disorganized Inventory

Cannabis dispensaries without organized inventory can face many challenges, including difficulty tracking product availability, inaccurate sales reporting, and decreased customer satisfaction. Dispensaries need a system for inventory management to ensure smooth operations and happy customers. 

SOLUTION: First In, First Out Concept (FIFO) with Secured Storage

Creating a First In, First Out (FIFO) concept with secured storage means that the items are retrieved in the order they were stored, ensuring that the oldest items are sold from inventory first. This system can be helpful in various situations, such as inventory management or product freshness. 

4. Climate

MISTAKE: Forgetting About the Details

It is essential to ensure that cannabis dispensaries’ storage rooms utilize climate control measures to maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels. Mistakes in climate control can lead to the product’s degradation and failure to maintain proper humidity levels. Failure to maintain climate control can cause mold and mildew to grow on the packaged plants, affecting the potency and quality of cannabis products.

SOLUTION: Storage Systems with Powder Coating

Implementing storage systems with a powder coat paint or zinc-plated finish can address climate control concerns in cannabis dispensaries – with appropriate temperature and humidity levels, helping maintain a clean and safe environment for storing products and extending shelf life.

5. Designing with Employees in Mind

MISTAKE: Not Considering Employee’s Workflow When Designing

Designing a cannabis dispensary with employees in mind requires considering their safety and comfort while creating an efficient workflow process. It’s essential to consider the back of the house in these considerations. Providing adequate employee training to operate the dispensary safely and effectively is vital to a successful team. 

 

SOLUTION: Creating an Efficient Workflow with Secured Storage

Establishing transparent processes and procedures is essential to improving workflow efficiency. A mobile storage system with secured storage can allow for a more efficient existing workflow by removing fixed aisles and more efficient use of square footage. Secured storage can help create a system that tracks inventory and limits access to authorized personnel – preventing theft or unauthorized use of products. Additionally, regular audits can help ensure regulatory compliance and identify potential issues early on.

6. Cleanliness

MISTAKE: Unreachable Areas to Clean

Having areas that are difficult to reach and clean regularly can cause inadequate cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces and equipment and failure to store and label products properly. These mistakes can lead to potential health hazards for employees and customers. Following proper cleanliness and cannabis storage protocols ensures a safe and healthy environment.

SOLUTION: Regularly Cleaning All Surfaces Easily with Mobile Aisles

Creating a schedule that includes regular cleaning of all surfaces and training staff on proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures helps ensure everyone follows the same guidelines while utilizing secured storage options like Secured Storage Systems and Mobile Storage Systems to store products safely and securely. Implementing a system to ensure that all products are organized and easy to find makes cleaning and sanitizing the area more long-term manageable.

7. Personal Employee Items Security

MISTAKE: No Area for Employees Belongings

Not providing a designated space for team members to store their personal belongings on the job can lead to cluttered work areas and potential security issues. Dispensaries need to prioritize the safety and comfort of their employees by providing adequate storage solutions for personal items.

SOLUTION: Secured Employee Lockers

Using employee lockers can help keep the workspace organized and provide a secure place for employees to store their personal belongings. There are various options with employee lockers, from different heights and size openings to other door options that include solid, ventilated, and even see-through.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Pipp Mobile Storage Systems have a 40-plus-year history of providing storage solutions. Retail Dispensary Storage is the latest application where our wide variety of products can improve efficiency, workflow, security, and overall employee satisfaction.

Our team of in-house experts can provide detailed storage area designs, goal specific shelving elevations, offer a turnkey experience by installing the fixtures, and solve storage concerns in the retail dispensary market. Our products solve the storage issues for many of the top specialty retailers in North America.

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Pipp Horticulture Acquires Grow Glide Assets

Pipp Horticulture Acquires Grow Glide Assets

Growing Stronger Together

Pipp Horticulture Acquires Grow Glide Assets

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This acquisition solidifies Pipp’s position as a leading provider of Indoor Commercial Mobile Vertical Grow Racks, Greenhouse Structures, and In-Rack Airflow Systems in North America.

Walker, Michigan – March 6, 2023 –During the past 6 years, Pipp Horticulture has emerged as a leading provider of indoor mobile vertical racking & in-rack airflow solutions throughout North America. The complexities of scaling an operation in this space have kept the competitive landscape lean, but in addition to Pipp Horticulture, Grow Glide, found its lane delivering quality systems at scale and developing a voice within this community.

“Following five years of both brands working hard to deliver higher value to their respective customers, we are pleased to announce that Pipp Horticulture and Grow Glide are now operating together and perfectly positioned to push the industry forward into what is bound to be a very exciting future.” – Craig Umans, President & CEO of Pipp.

Pipp will utilize the key strengths of each organization, and the expanded product offerings will become available to the most discerning cultivation facilities worldwide. Customers will receive value through Pipp Horticulture’s experience, made-in-USA production, and dedication to world-class customer service together with Grow Glide’s unique design features and use of cutting-edge technology. We couldn’t be more excited about this acquisition enabling us to offer the best of the best and deliver previously unimagined value to the most exciting marketplace – indoor vertical farming!

“The team from Grow Glide is thrilled to be joining Pipp Horticulture. By utilizing our knowledge, experience, and resources, we’ll be able to deliver even greater value to cultivators around the world. This represents a significant step forward for the indoor cultivation industry as a whole, and we’re honored to be at the forefront of this evolution.” – Darin Siples and Travis Schwartz of Grow Glide. www.growglide.com

 

About Pipp Horticulture 

Pipp Horticulture is an industry-leading provider of vertical farming and space optimization solutions. We work with commercial agriculture professionals globally to design, install, and optimize operational spaces throughout cultivation, post-harvest, manufacturing, and distribution facilities through the implementation of vertical and mobile rack, cart, and ventilation systems. The Pipp team merges over 40 years of commercial mobile storage experience with horticulture industry experts with over 50 years of operational experience in commercial agriculture and seed-to-sale production. Pipp provides expertise, insight, and network connections far beyond our mobile systems in support of our mission to augment financial performance and mitigate risk for our partners. For more information, please visit www.pipphorticulture.com.

 

About Novacap 

Founded in 1981, Novacap is a leading North American private equity firm with over C$8B of AUM that has invested in more than 100 platform companies and completed more than 150 add-on acquisitions. Applying its sector-focused approach since 2007 in Industries, TMT, Financial Services, and Digital Infrastructure, Novacap’s deep domain expertise can accelerate company growth
and create long-term value. With experienced, dedicated investment and operations teams as well as substantial capital, Novacap has the resources and knowledge that help build world-class businesses. Novacap has offices in Montreal, Toronto, and New York. For more information, please visit www.novacap.ca.

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MJBizCon 2022

Pipp Horticulture 2023 Trade Shows

Pipp Horticulture 2023 Trade Shows

The Ultimate Vertical Grow System - Pipp Horticulture

See You Soon!

The 2023 trade show season is in full swing, and we can’t wait to see you! Stop by our booth at an upcoming show for FREE swag and to learn how Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks can help elevate your grow operation. Read on for a list of the 2023 trade shows we will be attending!

February 27-28 in Las Vegas, NV

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Indoor Ag-Con is the largest indoor agriculture trade show and conference in the USA for indoor vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture.

Find us at Booth #723 at the Caesars Forum

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March 10-12 in Boston, MA

The 2023 New England Cannabis Convention, a.k.a. “The Annual Meeting of the East Coast Cannabis Industry,” is back! Featuring a sold-out exhibit hall showcasing hundreds of companies spanning the full spectrum of the cannabis and hemp industries, plus five full programming tracks running all three days, with over 120 expert speakers covering all the relevant topics and news for the New England markets.

Find us at Booth #112 at the Hynes Convention Center

Attend Our Speaker Session!

This year we will be hosting a speaker session at 2 PM on 3/11 with Director of Cultivation Michael Williamson & Cannabis Operations Specialist Anders Peterson!

During this session, the team’s learning objectives will include “space planning & design layout, important factors to understand before you start, understanding environmental control needs in a multi-tier indoor cultivation facility, and genetics & key traits to consider in a multi-tier indoor cultivation facility. We will also discuss labor optimization topics such as improving safety, ergonomics, and productivity.”

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June 1-3 in New York City

New York and the entire tri-state area are becoming one of the largest cannabis and hemp economic sectors in the country. Attend the 3-day CWCBExpo and stay for the special networking and Cannabis Week events in New York City – where business gets done!

Find us at Booth #515 at the Javits Convention Center

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June 13-15 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

GreenTech is the global meeting place for all professionals involved in horticulture technology. GreenTech focuses on the early stages of the horticulture chain and production issues relevant to growers. GreenTech offers two yearly exhibitions.

Find us at Booth #05 164VF at the RAI Amsterdam

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June 29-30 in Berlin, Germany

ICBC Berlin is Europe’s longest-running and biggest B2B trade show and conference. Europe’s premiere cannabis business networking environment, the event attracts 350+ sponsors and exhibitors and 5000+ attendees from 80+ countries.

Find us at Booth #337-339 at the Estrel Berlin Hotel

July 15-18 in Columbus, OH

Join us to learn best practices and foster business connections so you and your business can perform better, grow faster than ever, and be prepared for the future.

AmericanHort, the leading national association for the green industry, will host Cultivate’23—the premier event for the entire green industry. Cultivate attracts thousands of industry professionals and visitors from all over the United States and the world.

Find us at Booth #2019 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center

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August 15-17 in Las Vegas, NV

Cannabis Conference is the leading event for professionals from plant-touching cannabis businesses drawing in thousands of attendees from throughout the U.S., Canada, and nearly 30 other countries.

Find us at Booth #717 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

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November 28 – December 1 in Las Vegas, NV

Connect with 1,400+ exhibitors while walking the 280,000+ square feet expo, hearing insights from 180+ speakers focusing on content with six pre-show forums. Connect with countless networking opportunities at MjBizCon.

Booth # Coming Soon!

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Pipp Horticulture at Culta in Maryland

10 Do’s & Don’ts for Your Grow Room

10 Do’s & Don’ts for Your Grow Room

Pipp Horticulture at Culta in Maryland

Let’s Get Started!

Are you new to the industry, looking for tips for your upcoming grow room, or considering converting your single-tier setup to a multi-tiered vertical farm? Below we have put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts to follow for your grow room, so you don’t have to! We’re here to help make sense of all the available information and help you better understand the best practices to implement in your grow room.

1. Canopy Footprint

Do: Know Your Canopy Footprint

When first considering starting your own grow room, you must understand how much space you have. Do you have enough veg space to feed your flowering rooms? Can you meet your production goals? Most of the equipment in your grow room is sized based on your canopy footprint per room, while cultivation KPI metrics are also based on the canopy footprint. You can gain canopy square footage without sacrificing quality using mobile vertical grow racking systems. Learn more about gaining canopy square footage without sacrificing quality!

Don’t: Just Think About Plant Count

While plant count is essential, it can vary. The canopy footprint (or total bench area) will never change; it is constant. You can start thinking about canopy footprint instead of plant count or how many pounds per light.

 

2. Utilities

Do: Ensure You Have the Proper Utility Infrastructure to Support Your Build-Out

Ensuring you have the proper utility infrastructure to support your build-out will help avoid delays with adequate planning. If you need the appropriate utility infrastructure, engage with your local utility to estimate the timeline and cost of upgrading the utility services to your facility. You’ll want to write this one down, as this can be one of the most common delays for a new build!

Don’t: Assume

Assuming your new property has enough power, gas, and water to run your multi-tier grow facility will only cause delays. Your building will likely need the appropriate utility services to support your new facility. Run estimates! Running estimates before purchasing a new property can help estimate your utility usage and begin the utility upgrade process earlier than later. Running calculations will ensure limited delays for your new grow room. 

3. Budget

Do: Budget Appropriately

Cultivation facilities can be expensive, especially when new to the industry. Investing in the appropriate technologies (high CapEx) results in lower operating costs (OpEx). Lower production price means you will remain competitive as a cultivation business in market compression. Investing in vertical farming can also be a higher upfront cost. However, this higher upfront cost compared to single-level growing sets you up for success with a lower production cost for your facility’s life. Read more about the pros and cons of vertical farming!

Don’t: Cut Corners on Your Build-Out

Growers will forever be sacrificing yield, quality, consistency, and efficiency. To survive in today’s indoor cannabis market, you must invest in efficient technologies and reduce your cost per pound. The right facility design and budget can ensure you remain competitive for years to come.

 

4. Multi-Tier Growing

Do: Consider Multi-Tier

The time is now to convert to vertical farming, especially in a multi-tier facility set-up. Multi-tier vertical farming can significantly increase production capacity and utilize square and cubic footage. It is an overall more efficient strategy for indoor cultivation and allows for fixed cost absorption. Before converting to multi-tier vertical farming, learn about vertical farming cannabis grow systems!

Don’t: Assume Multi-Tier Growing is Cost-Prohibitive

Investing in multi-tier may be a higher upfront cost to get started. Still, the ability to produce more products in a smaller overall footprint is inherently more efficient and cost-effective. 

5. Working With the Right Team

Do: Assemble the Right Team

Hire an experienced cultivator! Engage consultants, architects, engineers, and contractors with experience designing and building an indoor cultivation facility. Building an indoor plant environment requires unique considerations that even the most experienced professionals could overlook. 

Connect with the Pipp Horticulture team when considering a team to help invest in Vertical Farming!

Don’t: Go the Cheaper Route When Hiring

“You get what you pay for” isn’t a saying for any reason. Don’t assume you will automatically start making large amounts of money initially. Your return on investment will take time, and hiring the right team at the beginning will help make those profits faster. Investing in the right team will pay off in the long run!

6. Environmental Controls

Do: Invest in Your Mechanical System and Airflow Design

Investing in your mechanical system and airflow design can often be the most significant limiting factor for success and profitability for indoor cultivation facilities. Practical and consistent air circulation is a must for any grow room, especially in the vertical farming setting. Knowing your watering rates and desired setpoints can help you decide which system and design you want to invest in. Long-term success is limited to good environmental controls. 

The patented Vertical Air Solutions (VAS) inner canopy air circulation system is designed to work with an HVAC system specified for your vertical farm size and growing methods. The VAS system lets you control environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, airflow velocity, and CO2 levels, optimizing plant health and finished product quality.

Don’t: Invest in Easily Upgradeable Systems

When just getting started, think about what systems are easier to retrofit once you start making money. If the budget is limited, try and figure out how to save money on these systems up front and set goals to upgrade after specific revenue benchmarks. 

7. Lighting

Do: Invest in LED Horticultural Fixtures

Since adopting Horticultural LED fixtures, the cost per fixture has dropped dramatically. Almost every facility built today uses LED lighting due to its efficiency per joule, spectrum, and form factor. Plus, you can often offset the cost of these fixtures with utility rebates from your local utility. LED lighting can help indoor cannabis operations by optimizing plant growth at every stage of the plant life cycle. Learn how vertical farming technology can improve your indoor cannabis operation!

Don’t: Spend Time and Money with HPS Lighting

HPS technology can be inefficient at converting electrical energy into usable plant light. All the heat generated with HPS lighting requires more cooling capacity to remove. With vertical farming adding multiple tiers of grow space, investing in LED lights will be crucial to maintain temperature.

8. Employee Considerations

Do: Train Employees on Your Systems

It’s essential to train your employees to know precisely what they need to do daily. Especially with vertical farming systems, Vertical Farming requires different training than single-tier systems. Limit the number of specialty tasks per employee, and have them master a job before training them on a new one. Walk before you run! Labor is the highest cost of producing a pound; a good team who feels confident in their job and cares about the plant will result in a profitable and successful business. Make their day-to-day more comfortable; an employee who enjoys coming to work will do a better job.

One element that the Pipp Horticulture team has thought of to help allow cultivators to access the upper levels of our multi-tier Vertical Grow Racks with ease and safety is our ELEVATE® Platform System. One person can set up the entire system, and the ergonomic design reduces worker stress and the risk of injury or fatigue.

Don’t: Assume Everyone Knows the Process, Even If They Say They Do

Employee errors cause injuries and failures due to a lack of training. Grow facilities should constantly update their SOPs and ensure their employees are up-to-date on the latest procedures. The cannabis industry is a fast-paced environment, and things can change overnight. Have a method to help track employee performance and mold that dedicated and professional team to achieve specific goals and success! 

9. Cleanliness

Do: Keep Your Facility and Grow Rooms Clean

A clean facility means healthy plants resulting in greater yields. Design an easier-to-clean facility, and plan out drains, sinks, and systems to allow for more efficient cleaning procedures. Reasonable environmental control and airflow reduce your risk for pathogen proliferation. The worst feeling a grower can experience is failing a lab test and not being able to sell a harvest batch that they just spent 3-4 months and tons of money growing. 

Pipp systems are designed for easy cleaning and sanitization. Grow Racks have an E-Coat base layer, providing complete coverage and negating the Faraday effect, while a powder coat top layer provides anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Pipp also made the inside duct work more accessible by removing the end caps. Learn more with our Vertical Farming Tips: Cleaning and Sterilizing with Vertical Air Solutions blog!

Don’t: Be Lazy

Cutting corners results in poor yields, airflow, and unhappy plants. Dirty facilities without proper reset and sanitization protocols increase their risk of failing lab tests and often reduce their yields. Growing quality indoor cannabis is not guaranteed; the more work and care you put into your plants and facility, the more you will be rewarded.

10. Balance

Do: Keep in Mind Every Parameter, Metric, and KPI in Your Grow Room Regarding Balance

Balance is the key to successful grow room design and operation. Is your watering rate balanced with your dehumidification capacity? Do your lighting levels balance with your CO2 levels? Energy in = energy out. Growing indoors is all about energy balance; within every system and plant to ensure success.

Don’t: Narrow Your Focus

Every system and growth parameter within your grow room works harmoniously and synergistically. If you just think about your fertilizer solution or irrigation strategy, you need to consider how that affects every other parameter to avoid throwing things out of balance. Balance your plant process flow, labor needs and timing, genetics rotation through production, and growth parameters. Balance is the key to success. 

In Conclusion

Working with the Pipp Horticulture team saves money when considering a new grow room. Pipp Horticulture continues to grow and improve daily with over 50 years of experience. It has quickly become the industry-leading provider of Mobile Vertical Growing Solutions with installations in over 2,500 grow rooms worldwide. We have engineered various cost-effective solutions that can exponentially grow your production without increasing your square footprint, allowing cultivators to grow up to 5x more by maximizing their cubic grow space and creating more efficient workflows. Moving forward with Pipp Horticulture means working closely with our in-house professional engineers, CAD designers, sales support, and experienced cannabis operators. Let us help you maximize your production capability, reduce operating costs, and increase your overall revenue per square foot!

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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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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

Vertical Mobile Rack System

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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Urban_Wellness_8

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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