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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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Urban Wellness’ Journey With Vertical Grow Racks

Managing a grow facility while maximizing yields—particularly in an urban area— can be difficult, and finding a large enough space can come at a hefty price. Urban Wellness was ready to take their grow operations to the next level (literally).

See how vertical farming did just that.

Transitioning to vertical farming allows them to maximize canopy space and more than double production per square foot. Because vertical grow racks can easily move and adjust, Urban Wellness was able to increase efficiency and create a more streamlined workflow in the facility. “We believe in using technology and innovation to drive our company into the future.” said the New Mexico based dispensary. Check out how Urban Wellness partnered with Pipp Horticulture to elevate their cultivation with vertical grow racks.
 

So, interested in learning more about Urban Wellness? Check out their website here:

URBAN WELLNESS NEW MEXICO

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Mobile Vertical Grow Rack System Layout and Design

To efficiently design a space-saving mobile vertical grow system it is very important to understand the grow stage and how the customer intends to grow. Here at Pipp Horticulture, we have years of experience in creating space-saving facilities across the globe. Here we’ll discuss some items to consider when designing a grow system.

Considerations

1. Critical Wall Dimensions
2. Ceiling Height / Light Height
3. Doors
4. Egress Paths
5. Electrical Panels
6. Columns
7. Any other known obstructions in the grow area
8. Floor variations (type of flooring)
9. Type of grow room (Flower, Vegetation, Mother, Dry, Clone, etc..)
10. Grow Racking Height
11. Desired number of grow tiers and tray type (ABS, Combination, Wire Grid)
12. Notate any staging, receiving areas, workstations, managers desk, etc…
13. Provide a importable PDF (non scanned or marked up), CAD (.dwg) file , or a detailed sketch.

Flow of the Room

When in the early design concept phase of designing your grow system consider the flow of the room. You must understand all of the fixtures in the room. (Ex. electrical panels, overhead emergency lights, HVAC, pipes, drains, columns, sprinklers, and even doors.) While not always needed, keeping an open design on final door and wall location is very beneficial in maximizing canopy in a new construction application. If the room is part of a facility renovation or existing building, door relocation is not always needed, but adjusting door location can be extremely beneficial to increasing both canopy and also ergonomics for workers

Design of Grow Room

After working on the flow of your room, now it’s time to think about design. Stationary grow rack units are used sparingly in horticulture for ergonomic reasons. Stationary grow rack units can be 4’ deep if access is available on both sides, otherwise 2’ deep racks are utilize for ergonomic reasons and ease of plant management. Next, when looking at the number of carriages consider these factors:

  • The size of the room
  • The length and height of the carriages
  • Seismic Regulations
  • Canopy Considerations
  • Generally, we want to utilize a 4ft moveable aisle per 5 carriages under 16ft high; (4 carriages 16ft high and taller)
  • Customer Request

The back of the mobile system needs to be at least 6″ – 12″ off the parallel wall. This needs to be at least 6″ for drains located on the back wall, and 12″ – 18″ for air movement equipment mounted to the back of the mobile carriage. Grow Rack blocks used for horticulture layouts were created with finished size included. Track end stops also have blocks drawn to exact size for accurate mobile aisle and track length configuration. When using Rivet Grow Racks for horticulture applications, proper carriage sizing has to be shown by adding spacing between the carriages. See the diagram below for a bit of help.

 

Layout Details

Now it’s time to get creative! To begin your layout, label the drawings with as much information as possible, including the location for seismic purposes. Next, label each room as their own separate entity (flower room, vegetation, mother, curing, drying etc.) Next, complete the canopy chart. Canopy is defined as the area plants are grown, typically this is an 8′ x 4′ area (32 sq. ft. if canopy), multiplied by the number of grow levels. Complete your project information and then you have a designed a mobile vertical grow rack system layout that is efficient and easy to maintain!

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Are Indoor Vertical Farms The Future Of Agriculture?

By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion. Yes, you read that correctly. Major shifts in demographics and climate are causing a strain on the agriculture industry and it is making us ask the question: what is an improved manufacturing process we can implement moving forward? Here we’ll discuss Stuart Oda’s Ted Talk diving into the benefits of controlled indoor farming with vertical racks for vertical farms and just how it may be the solution to sustaining the population. 

The Need For Indoor Farming

Over 68% of the population will be living in urban city centers by the year 2050, only further solidifying the need for higher grow yields in smaller spaces. Production will have to become more efficient and more affordable, and the tools for even the smallest production facilities will have to become more readily available. What better way to go than up?

Freedom Green Farms - Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

 

More Space, Less Square Footage

Vertical grow racks allow growers to utilize more space with vertical farms without sacrificing square footage. So how does it work? Uprights are pre-welded for fast assembly and strength of vertical racks while beams incorporate a unique tapered finger design attachment that locks beams safely onto uprights. This creates a safe and effective space that actually improves the quality of your growth as opposed to a traditional single-tier system. Allowing small-scale growers to produce bigger yields could be the answer to our growing population.

A Climate-Proof Environment

One of the many benefits of indoor vertical farming is the ability to control climate on all levels of grow. For example, settings may be adjusted based on which level the grow is located and how that affects the room’s overall temperature. Another benefit of multi-level farming is the ability to grow a variety of items adjusted to each individual need. You can’t compare apples to oranges (literally) and different grows to require different climate settings. Vertical farming also allows climate to be changed row by row and artificial lighting from LEDs to replicate natural light and assist in growth. Gone are the days when agriculture is susceptible to Mother Nature’s changing climates.

See how vertical farming all works together in this informative Ted Talk from Stuart Oda:

 

Moving Forward

Thinking ahead, the need for resources to be grown at a higher quantity and a faster rate is essential to sustaining our population. While it’s evident that some items are completely out of our control, we can, however, control our manufacturing processes. Consider implementing vertical farming now to effectively impact your growth into the future.

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We Were Featured on Netflix’s “Rotten”!

Netflix’s Show Rotten

The cannabis industry has definitive ups and downs. While cannabis is an incredible product that can help people live relatively pain-free lives, there are a ton of regulations on different parts of the industry: potency, production and distribution, edibles, and medical vs. recreational use just to name a few. These regulations vary by state and are also more extreme on a federal level. Netflix’s show Rotten is an interesting and informative docuseries that discusses the benefits and downfalls to the cannabis industry and how a change in marijuana laws is affecting legitimate dispensaries and production facilities.

Our Vertical Cannabis Grow Racks and Mobile Carriages in Action

Throughout the episode, aptly named “High on Edibles” (Season 2, Episode 6), a wide range of people related to the cannabis industry are interviewed – edible production businesses, dispensaries, grow facilities, scientists, professors, police officers, and so on. During the interview of one such dispensary, Tokyo Starfish, you can see our vertical cannabis grow racks and mobile carriages in action! Check it out at the 55:37 mark here.

Contact us for more information about our products and services!

Contact here!

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Urban Wellness

“At Urban Wellness, we believe in utilizing technologies, research and development, and patient input to drive our company into the future. That’s why we’ve collaborated with PIPP Horticulture and Mammoth LED to create a state-of-the-art grow facility.”

GOING VERTICAL 

PIPP Horticulture is the industry-leading provider of mobile, vertical grow rack systems, helping growers maximize production capability. With over 80,000 cardholders enrolled in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, increasing our production helps us better serve our patients.

Managing a grow facility while maximizing yields—particularly in an urban area— can be difficult, and finding a large enough space can come at a hefty price. By transitioning to vertical farming, we maximize canopy space and more than double production per square foot. Racks are easily moved and adjusted, increasing efficiency and creating a more streamlined workflow in our facility.”

Learn More about how Pipp Horticulture helped Urban Wellness

Learn More about Urban Wellness

Learn More about Pipp’s Products

 

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Shifting From Single Level HPS to Multi-Level LED

Achieving consistency in your grow operations requires much trial and error, resulting in operational expenses. John Ritter, Director of Sales with Pipp Horticulture sat down with MMJ Daily to discuss how using a led yield calculator and shifting from single level HPS to multi-level LED is changing the way the industry increases canopy.

Increasing Your Space

“When it comes to optimizing spaces, we know what to do,” said John. “When we entered the cannabis sector, we spent a substantial amount of time understanding how to best serve this industry. We had a lot of knowledge regarding vertical racking, and we wanted to use it to empower growers and make them successful. Thus, we have team members that are extremely knowledgeable with regards to everything that factors into growing cannabis in indoor farms. We don’t focus on our equipment solely, but we have studied how to integrate all sorts of different solutions from other suppliers with ours, in order to advise our customers on how to make it work together with all the rest of the equipment within the operation.”

Cultivating Different Strategies

Pipp Horticulture understands that no two grow operations are the same, which is why we always create different strategies depending on size, lighting and individual goals. “Though no two growers nor their cultivation strategies are the same, we are starting to see some consistent approaches in terms of equipment selection and strategy,” says Michael Williamson, Director of Cultivation for Pipp.

Grow More

Vertical farming provides full-scale solutions that benefit all facets of your grow operations. Experienced vertical growers can expect more from their canopy, and it only increases over time. “When you quantify a two-tier multi-level mobile rack approach for the same square footprint and the same yield modeling, growers are achieving 4-6 lbs. Experienced vertical growers who elect for a three-tiers are achieving 6-9 lbs in the same square footprint as the single level HPS grower who is only achieving 2-3 lbs.” Pipp assists growers in fully understanding the process to create a functional workable solution that can integrate several brands and facilities.

Now Let’s Calculate Your Yields

Use our cannabis yield calculator and click the link below, enter your facilities current canopy space, production metrics, and sales price to see how much revenue you could be making when you upgrade your indoor farm to PIPP Horticulture’s Cannabis grow racks!

CALCULATE HIGHER YIELDS

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Sea Hunter Therapeutics Case Study

Just a few short years ago, Sea Hunter Therapeutics decided to move forward with vertical farming to increase their canopy. They started with moving benches to increase space by eliminating the gap the aisles created. After years of working with their own vertical farming system, they decided to take their cultivation efforts to the next level. That’s where Pipp Horticulture stepped in.

Even with 10’ ceiling height limitations, we creatively designed a state-of-the-art, multi-level vertical grow system for them in Taunton, MA generating over an astonishing 50,000 sq. ft. of canopy space! “We just love these racks.” CJ with Sea Hunter stated. “They easily go back and forth, and even full of material they move very smoothly.”

Check out more about Sea Hunter Therapeutics cultivation process and how Pipp Horticulture’s mobile vertical racks more than doubled their canopy.

 

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Teaming With TheraCann On Innovative Storage Solutions

Since the regulation of legal medical cannabis, everything boomed and turned small-scale operations into an extremely fast-growing, large-scale, industry.  PIPP Horticulture is honored to partner with TheraCann International in the development and global deployment of its innovative world-class solution. Check out all about it in the article below, from Christ Bolton, TheraCann CEO.

“This was one of our first steps as a company,” Chris explains. “I was lucky enough to have started my career in agriculture when I was a kid. My dad had a farm and a ranch, so I had a hands-on experience when it comes to the tribulations of growing. At the same time, I have a legal background in international regulatory environments. Therefore, when the medical cannabis sector was regulated, I immediately saw the many opportunities it offered. We were at the inception of a new sector, and we knew it would grow exceptionally fast.” See a time-lapse video from the Pipp/TheraCann installation below!

Adopting Large Scale Storage Solutions

After this realization, TheraCann began work towards elevating the large-scale cannabis sector with new and innovative storage solutions. “The goal was to come up with a method of cultivation that was able to repeat each batch in the same manner. Therefore, we gathered international vendors together and worked to individuate the root causes of inconsistent cannabis batches.” Working with Pipp, TheraCann received excellent results working in over ten countries on international projects. Check out another photo of this fantastic system below!

 

Get Started

Whether you are preplanning your cannabis business or trying to become more profitable at your current one, growing vertically can seriously impact your yields. Find out how much with our free calculator!

Cannabis Yield Calculator

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