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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Vertical Farming

Creating Over 25,000 Sq. Ft. Using Vertical Farming – Trulieve Spotlight

Vertical Farming

With several locations across the East and West coast, Trulieve believes in the power of cannabis for all. Their team takes great pride in building community, offering innovative products and advocating for the industry. In order to educate and spread equity within the cannabis industry, Trulieve had to continue expanding across the U.S., which meant they needed the ability to grow more product and increase production capacity – quickly and efficiently. The team knew going vertical was the new standard for indoor cultivation and was prudent to their aim to expand sustainably. 

 

After meeting with several vertical racking providers, Trulieve consulted with fellow facility owners to find out who was the most reliable and innovative racking providers that worked alongside owners to accomplish goals. This is when their team heeded advice from other cultivators and contacted Pipp Horticulture’s CAD team to prepare room drawings including elevations of the vertical, grow systems, to ensure efficient grow space. After seeing the capabilities of the racking system and accessories, Trulieve decided to partner with Pipp Horticulture to transform into a indoor vertical cultivation facility.

Trulieve/Harvest - Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks
Pipp Team at Trulieve

Fast forward a few years, now the Trulieve cultivation facility is fully equipped with the ultimate dream team: Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks, Vertical Air Solutions and Grow Trays. Working directly with Pipp’s team of in-house professional engineers, CAD designers, sales support, and experienced vertical farming operators they were able to experience unparalleled support before and after the equipment installation to ensure operational success.

Now Trulieve is able to grow, harvest and produce cannabis plants in an eco-friendly environment to reduce carbon footprint and protect the planet. Check out how Pipp created over 25,700 sq. ft. of canopy and contributed to this success through vertical farming. It’s quite impressive, these numbers don’t lie!

Here Are The Official Numbers:

Total Rooms – 4
Total Grow Trays – 828
Total Double Tier Racks – 92
Total Canopy – 25,792 SQ. FT.

Greenhaus Grow Tray

Grow Like Trulieve – Partner With The Leading Provider of Moveable Vertical Farming Solutions

Our mobile grow racks, Greenhaus tray systems, and vertical air solutions allow cultivators to maximize space in cultivation production and post-harvest processing facilities through vertical farming. Implementing our mobile cultivation racks will increase production by maximizing cubic canopy footprint without increasing the square footprint of the room or building. Vertical farming maximizes production capability, reduces operating costs, and increases overall revenue per square foot by as much as 3 times.

Pipp’s mobile vertical grow racks can be built up to 56’ long and 18’ high (systems larger require engineering approval). Pipp Horticulture has a team of in-house professional engineers, CAD designers, sales support, and experienced cannabis operators to provide partners with unparalleled support before and after equipment installation to ensure operational success. Pipp Horticulture also offers professional installation of cannabis grow racks across North America and all products are proudly made in the USA!

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sozo-pip

Increasing Your Vertical Farming Canopy – Sozo Health Spotlight

Sozo embraces the most advanced cannabis cultivation technology to create the best recreational and medical marijuana available in Michigan. From the moment Sozo transplants first cuttings, to the moment that their products are enjoyed by the end-user, Sozo’s mission is to take great pride in doing their part to nurture plants. The Sozo family executes meticulous measures produce the finest cannabis products, but doing so in a manner that takes no shortcuts nor ever sacrificing purity and quality. Sozo has a demanding vision of excellence that is imbued in every detail as invested in teams and communities. This vision also directly impacted every aspect of Sozo’s cultivation facility.

The Sozo team had been working with double ended HPS and single tiered grow rooms since its inception. As Sozo grew, they looked for ways to continuously improve and streamline their operations. From then on the Sozo team looked for ways to continuously improve and streamline their operations. This is where the engineers at Pipp Horticulture stepped in. Pipp worked with Sozo to implement Mobile Vertical Racking Systems that created more space in their Detroit cultivation facility. To further improve and create safer grow operations, Sozo added Pipp’s revolutionary ELEVATE Platform System to create a safer environment for servicing the second level. The results after implementation were simply astounding.

 

 

Pipp helped Sozo grow more with their vertical farming solutions by creating 24,824 sq ft.  of canopy and increasing yields by 70%. Learn more:

 

 

 

 

 

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GGS AND PIPP HORTICULTURE

Pipp Horticulture Acquires the GGS Group of Companies

GGS AND PIPP HORTICULTURE

Pipp Horticulture (a division of Pipp Mobile Storage Systems, Inc.) (“Pipp”), the leading provider of space-saving, multi-level mobile cultivation systems, announced today that it has acquired the GGS Group of Companies (“GGS”). Based in Vineland, Ontario, GGS is one of the most recognized names in the Horticulture industry. They have been the leading manufacturer of top-quality greenhouses and turnkey greenhouse growing solutions including traditional rolling benches, heating and ventilation systems, and curtain systems.

“We are thrilled to welcome the entire GGS team to the Pipp family of companies,” said Craig Umans, Pipp President and CEO. “GGS has decades of experience manufacturing greenhouse structures and has become a leading supplier to the horticulture industry. The company has consistently impressed us with its ability to deliver value to its customers, and we look forward to our next phase of growth.”

Planted Detroit
Planted Detroit
TerrAscend
TerrAscend
“We are pleased to partner with PIPP as we build an even more expansive platform to serve our customers,” said Leigh Coulter, President and Owner of GGS. “Our expertise in designing, manufacturing and installing commercial greenhouse structures, combined with Pipp’s state-of-the-art vertical farming and space optimization solutions, will allow us to offer North American growers a complete and efficient solution.”
“We are delighted to see two such complementary companies come together today. This acquisition is another step in Pipp’s strategy to become the leading supplier of turnkey solutions to all segments of horticulture globally,” said Marc Paiement, Senior Partner at Novacap. “We look forward to continuing to work with them throughout this process, providing support and expertise to help them achieve their goal.” For the past several years, Pipp Horticulture’s mission has been to help cultivators across the globe save time and money by creating a more efficient grow facility and help streamline operations. Pipp has not only developed a product line that was purposefully designed to serve the cultivation market, but they have strategically acquired companies like GGS and Vertical Air Solutions, the leading provider of air circulation systems for indoor vertical farming, to be able to offer the industry a turnkey cultivation solution, continuously improving upon their services, and developing products that positively affect canopy output and facility operations. Following this transaction, Coulter will remain President and CEO and operations will remain under the GGS banner. The combination of the two companies will expand Pipp’s position as the leading provider of Indoor Commercial Grow Racks, Greenhouse Structures and Air Circulation Systems in North America.
TerrAscend
TerrAscend
TerrAscend
TerrAscend

About Pipp Horticulture

Pipp Horticulture is the 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 the 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 GGS Structures

The GGS Group of Companies is comprised of GGS Structures Inc., JGS Limited and Niagrow Systems Ltd. For over 40 years GGS has been designing and manufacturing greenhouses and growing environments throughout North America. Our design approach considers all the aspects of your agribusiness for greenhouses with immediate capability, greater convenience, and maximized growth potential. Tasco Dome, a brand of GGS, is a leader in fabric-covered buildings for the agriculture, industrial and equestrian industries. JGS Limited provides state-of-the-art greenhouse solutions for research facilities, educational institutions, conservatories and more. Niagrow Systems Ltd. designs greenhouse heating systems to make sure growers have the right amount of heat in the right location at the right time to maintain the ideal growing environment. For more information, please visit www.ggs-greenhouse.com

About Novacap

Founded in 1981, Novacap is a leading North American private equity firm with more than 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 TMT, Industries and now Financial Services, 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 funding, Novacap has the resources and knowledge to build world-class businesses. Novacap has offices in Brossard, Québec and Toronto, Ontario. For more information, please visit www.novacap.ca.

Have questions about this recent partnership? Ask us below!

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IMG_1916-scaled

Cultivating Cannabis Profits With Vertical Farming Technology

As cannabis legalization continues to roll out across the United States, more growers are looking to optimize canopy space and their bottom line with vertical farming technology. Not only is vertical farming a solution to costly real estate necessary for large-scale cannabis production, it also reduces grow time and labor costs through standardization and automation.

Whether it’s corn, cucumbers, or cannabis, the goal of any farming operation is to grow healthy plants in abundance, and this is where vertical farming excels. Current applications of vertical farming, paired with state-of-the-art indoor growing technologies, have resulted in over 10 times the crop yield than traditional farming methods.

Vertical farming is also one of the more sustainable methods of growing cannabis, along with many other fruits, flowers, and vegetables. It uses up to 95 percent less water and nearly 100 percent less space than traditional growing methods while harvesting 80 percent more per unit of area, year-round.

Indoor Vertical Farming Technology Overview: What is it?

For decades, indoor-grown cannabis has reigned supreme in the marketplace, compared to her outdoor-grown sister. It’s no different today. Vertical farming technologies simply allow farmers to improve upon their indoor growing methods but on a much larger scale in vertically stacked layers.

Besides using every square foot of cultivation space available, vertical farming infrastructure and technologies ensure crops receive ideal lighting, airflow, water, and nutrients necessary for optimal growth.

4 Ways Vertical Farming Technology Can Improve Your Cannabis Operation

New and noteworthy technologies offer countless opportunities to incorporate vertical farming into your indoor cannabis cultivation operation. Besides energy and labor savings, indoor farming technologies help growers consistently produce healthy, high-yield crops.

Let’s look at how your vertical farming space can get an edge over the competition with four must-have technologies that are worth your investment.

1. Grow More With Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Vertical grow racks are the foundation on which a successful vertical cannabis farming business is built. They allow for multiple levels of cannabis plants to grow on a large scale and provide the framework for shelves, LED lights, and other indoor farming technology necessary for healthy plants.

Vertical grow racks from Pipp Horticulture feature strong, anti-microbial, and fungal-resistant beams and uprights that lock together tightly, using a unique tapered finger attachment design. They can be designed with grow trays tailored to each operation, including combination grow trays, drip-to-drain grow trays and ABS combination grow trays. In addition, installing the vertical grow racks on mobile carriages transforms fixed aisle space in between each rack into more canopy space for operation. Pipp’s mobile drying carts or racks can help growers convert their dry room into a mobile, multi-tier dry/cure system while at the same time, reducing labor costs and improving the product’s quality.

2. LED Lights Grow Lush Plants With Less Energy

The most successful indoor and vertical farming operations rely on LED lights for lush and healthy plant growth. High-quality LED lighting solutions are also far more energy-efficient and produce less heat compared to traditional high-intensity discharge fixtures. By using targeted light spectrums and brightness, advanced LED light fixtures can optimize plant growth at every stage. The result is lower energy costs without sacrificing crop yield or crop quality.

3. Prevent Pathogens With Climate Control Systems

The biggest advantage of vertical farming technology is, perhaps, the ability to control the growing environment. Extreme temperatures and humidity can have a significant effect on plant health and are often the cause of poor yields, pests, and pathogens — even indoors. Fortunately, with a climate control system in place, indoor growers can control the environment for a remarkable harvest.

The best vertical farm climate control systems, like Vertical Air Solution’s Air Circulation System, operate at the microclimate level keeping consistent airflow throughout your vertical grow delivering ideal temperatures, humidity, and CO2 levels directly to the plants.

4. Controls and Sensors Offer Important Insight

Controls and sensors are essentially the central nervous system of your indoor cultivation operation that create self-regulating, micro-climates ideal for healthy plant growth. The controller operates growing equipment, collects data, and provides critical insight to the grower while sensors allow growers to monitor the environment. Oftentimes this can all be carried out with a smartphone app.

By controlling and monitoring the grow environment this way, cultivators can activate indoor farm equipment including LED lighting, HVAC units, and irrigation systems, automatically maintaining the ideal conditions to grow crops.

Vertical Farming is the Future: Trends In Technology

Industry experts have identified a rapid expansion of the general vertical farming market, which is expected to reach $7.3 billion annually by 2025. Increased access to institutional financing and banking services under proposed federal cannabis reforms will likely fuel intensified investment in vertical farming systems and indoor farming technology in the future.

With ongoing innovations in vertical farming technologies, it will be vital for growers to stay up to date on the latest advancements. By acquiring and installing high-quality vertical farming technologies today, savvy indoor farmers can expect to cultivate cannabis profits well into the future.

Watch to discover the 10 essential vertical farming tools you need for the ultimate grow room:

People also ask…

What technology is used in vertical farming?

A variety of state-of-the-art technologies, such as specialized LED lights, mobile vertical grow racks, and air-flow systems are used in vertical farming operations. In most cases, vertical farming technologies are combined into fully integrated systems.

What is the best vertical farming system?

The best vertical farming system largely depends on the growers’ needs. Mobile Vertical Grow Racks have proven to be the most effective solution for grow operations to maximize their canopy. In addition, soil-free systems, including hydroponics, are successful because of their effectiveness, eco-sustainability, and monetary advantages.

What are the methods of vertical farming?

Vertical farms come in all different shapes and sizes, from shipping containers to abandoned buildings several stories tall. Most vertical & indoor farms use one of three soil-free systems to provide nutrients to plants: hydroponic, aeroponics, or aquaponics.

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PIPPMJBizCon7

Pipp Cultivating Cannabis Connections at MJBizCon 2021

When you’re out roaming the massive floor of the MJBizCon conference & cannabis expo next week, stop by our booth and say hello. Pipp Horticulture is one of over 1,000 cannabis industry exhibitors that will attend the 10th annual MJBizCon in Las Vegas from Oct. 19 to 22, 2021.

“Come meet with our team of the most experienced cultivation experts in the vertical farming industry,” said John Ritter, Director of Sales at Pipp Horticulture.

Pipp Horticulture will be at booth #C6235. Visitors to Pipp’s booth can interact with the company’s innovative TRAK-FREE™ mobile vertical racking system to feel how smoothly it glides along the floor with a simple turn of the handle.

“This hands-on experience transforms a prospect into a customer,” said Tom French, Director of Engineering & Operations at Pipp. Attendees will also have an opportunity to see Pipp’s patent-pending ELEVATE™ Platform system up close and in person.

Elevate Your Vertical Farming IQ at MJBizCon 2021

Pipp Horticulture’s ELEVATE™ Platform System is a robust, lightweight, and portable deck that allows cultivators to access the upper levels of Pipp’s Multi-Tier Mobile Grow Racks quickly, efficiently and safely.

The company’s groundbreaking system integrates with Pipp’s Bulk Rack Shelving Systems without need for modifications. Growers can easily install The ELEVATE™ Platform System on new or existing Pipp mobile vertical grow racks. Be sure to ask us about the ELEVATE™ Platform System and any other Pipp products and services at MJBizCon. We’re here to help!

MJBizCon Is The Preeminent Cannabis Event of the Year

Produced by MJBizDaily, the cannabis industry’s top business news publication since 2011, MJBizCon is the cannabis industry’s most revered event.

“MJBizDaily is highly respected in the industry and this is reflected at every event,’’ said Craig Umans, President & CEO of Pipp Horticulture. “Our team has consistently walked away with valuable leads, conversations, and opportunities that invigorate us for the year ahead. There is a high level of engagement, which makes the experience worthwhile for all parties who participate.”  

Held on 250,000 sq. ft. of expo floor at Las Vegas Convention Center, the three-day MJBizCon event gives attendees enough space and time to experience all there is to offer. Pipp’s first year at MJBizCon was in 2017. While last year’s virtual show was excellent, the company is excited that MJBizCon will be live again in 2021.

“There’s nothing like having a face-to-face conversation with like-minded attendees,” said Curtis Dadian, National Sales Manager at Pipp. “In-person is something we have been waiting for with high anticipation.”

Besides promoting its core products and services at the marijuana business conference & expo, Pipp will have the opportunity to join business leaders, major private investors, wholesale cultivators, and other industry professionals at cannabis networking events and educational seminars.

MJBizCon’s 2021 keynote speaker ABC’s Shark Tank star and The Shark Group CEO, Daymond John. Daymond is also founder/CEO of FUBU and presidential ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. Networking events at MJBizCon this year are Achieving Equity in Cannabis, and Empowering Women in Cannabis while dozens of breakout sessions will bring Pipp and other players the latest trends and developments in cannabis. Here are just a few we’re looking forward to.

  • A Candid View of Cannabis Markets in 2021 and predictions for 2022
  • The Next Wave of Innovation and Investment in the Cannabis Economy
  • Supply Chain Interruptions, Shortages and New Contaminants: Cannabis Industry Impacts of Covid-19
  • Unicorn Yields : Raising the Bar of What Cannabis Can Produce feature latest technologies
  • From the Ground Up: Launching a Cannabis Cultivation Operation

“For cannabis companies seeking partnerships, advice, investors, connections or new products and services, MJ Biz Con is the place to do it,” said Curtis Dadian.

When you stop by Pipp’s booth #C6235, ask about our major industry announcement and be sure to enter the company’s giveaway for a chance to win Pipp’s exclusive Grower’s Survival Kit, valued at $500. The Pipp Grower’s Survival Kit includes merchandise from some of the most highly respected brands in the industry like YETI®, Revelry, Method Seven, Farmer’s Defense and more!

Look forward to connecting at MJBizCon 2021! 

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7 Signs a Plant Is Healthy

The cannabis industry is rapidly growing and is on pace to more than double in value by 2025. While new cultivators begin to enter the industry, one factor continues to set each grower apart – the health of their canopy. Achieving a plentiful harvest of healthy cannabis is not an easy task. It takes diligence, education, and many years of experience to become masterful at the grow process. From root development to canopy airflow, it is a meticulous process that must be measured and monitored continuously.

If neglected, microbials, pathogens, and pests appear and reproduce rapidly throughout the canopy, potentially destroying or minimizing total harvest yields. However, early detection helps to overcome these hurdles, so the cultivator can focus on growing lush and nutrient-rich cannabis plants.

Here we’ll discuss how to recognize the noticeable signs that indicate healthy plants throughout the cultivation process.

Visual Appearance

Visual appearance is one of the easiest ways to determine the health of a cannabis plant. Through simple visual cues, a cultivator can get a good indication of plant health and identify deficiencies that require attention.

Here are four initial visual considerations to recognize when looking for plant health:

• Typical leaf color (no discoloration) and consistency throughout plants.
• Strength of leaves – No wilting, dropping, or curling. Ideally, leaves stretching up towards the light.
• Number of leaves – mature plants typically have seven or more leaves.
• Void of spots, variegation, burnt tips.

As operations scale up, these visual cues may be more difficult to distinguish. Pipp Horticulture’s Mechanical Assist Drive System allows for easy observation of the visible appearance of plants throughout multiple aisles at the same time. To view the top-level canopy, install the ELEVATE side rails on each side of Pipp’s vertical racks, take the first deck, slide it into place on the rails, then daisy chain remaining decks down the aisle. From there, hook the ladder on, and the operator is ready to access the second level!

Root Development

After examining the general visual appearance on the top of the plant, be sure to check on the plant’s root development. Roots are the foundation for cannabis growth, and poor root development can indicate that the plant is not absorbing water or transporting essential nutrients.

When determining if a root system is healthy, check for these indicators:

• Healthy white appearance with little to no browning
• Roots should be plentiful and grow outward to the edges of the container
• No signs of root rot (brown and mushy)
• Not rootbound or tangled

Remember: maintaining healthy roots is essential for producing healthy plants!

Air Movement

The growth environment, including air circulation and ventilation systems, can also play a role in determining a plant’s health. Proper intake and exhaust ensure sufficient amounts of CO2 for photosynthesis and prevent environments favorable to microbial growth.

This is why destratification techniques should be utilized to minimize any microclimates caused by transpiration from plants and other factors. Vertical Air Solutions Air Circulation System keeps consistent airflow throughout every part of a vertical grow and allows cultivators to take control of environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels.

Watch how to maximize airflow throughout the pruning process below:

Brix

Brix (symbol °Bx) is a measurement of the sugar/sucrose levels in plants. A higher brix count typically indicates a healthier, more nutritious plant. Use a refractometer to measure Brix (sugar) and ensure that it is in the ideal range for healthy photosynthesis. This range is between 12%-30% and is a good indicator of plant health.

Defoliation is one of the most effective ways to raise sugar levels by redirecting sugars to the most needed parts of the plant. When searching for a Brix Refractometer, there are a wide variety of measurement tools available online and in hydroponic stores.

Runoff

Runoff is the water stream that goes beyond the root zone of the cannabis plant. This water is full of useful information about plant nutrient levels, fertilizer, and more. Measuring the concentration of solubles (PPM) and soil acidity (pH) in runoff can be an excellent indicator of overall plant health.

When performing these measurements, compare PPM/EC & PH of runoff to input PPM/EC & PH. Runoff should be considerably lower in PPM/EC, showing the plant is effectively taking in nutrients. These levels can easily be determined by using test strips from a local hydroponic store or, for more accurate measurements, use a digital EC/PH/Temp monitor.

Visual Pest Inspection

As discussed, precise temperature, airflow, and humidity levels are all essential to growing nutrient-rich plants. However, these conditions can often harbor unwanted pests and insects. The ability to identify these insects, their preferred environmental conditions, and how fast they can multiply throughout a canopy is essential to plant preservation. Visually scouting for these pests can be done by the human eye or through cameras, AI, and pest control software.

Consider utilizing yellow sticky traps, microscopes, AI, and companion plants in the pest management process. After taking all the necessary measures, the absence of or limited amount of certain pests is a good indicator of plant health.

Trichomes

Trichome color and appearance can help gauge timing for an optimal harvest. Typically healthy trichomes at their peak concentration will have a slightly milky white color, meaning they are full of THC. At this stage, use an HD digital camera/microscope or a small hand-held microscope to observe overall ripeness.

When taking an up-close look, keep an eye out for any burnt or amber colors as this could indicate some damage. Ensuring proper room temperature, humidity, and light exposure throughout the entire growth process can keep trichomes from suffering any destruction.

Summary

In conclusion, it’s essential to recognize the signs of an unhealthy cannabis plant before it spread throughout the canopy. Pipp Horticulture’s vertical farming equipment can also assist with keeping plants healthy, increasing ROI, and getting more from every harvest.

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Finding the Best Grow Tray for Your Cultivation Facility

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

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

What is a Grow Tray?

 

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

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

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

Two Irrigation Methods

 

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

Drain to Waste

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

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

Ebb and Flow

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

Challenges with Low Quality Trays

 

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

Sagging

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

Cracking

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

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

Sanitization Challenges

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

Lack of Integration

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

Pipp’s Top of the Line Grow Trays

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

ABS Combo Grow Trays

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

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

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

GHI Aluminum Grow Trays

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

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

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

Finding a Quality Grow Tray

 

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

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Microbusiness License for Cannabis and Vertical Farming Optimization

The adult-use cannabis market is on the rise on the east coast of the United States, opening up new opportunities for those interested in opening a marijuana micro business. March of 2021 saw the joining of New York into the recreational use cannabis market alongside New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Now, the industry is expected to see a massive revenue increase of over $7 billion dollars annually and cultivators across the coast are scrambling to get licensing in order to open their own cannabis cultivation facilities.

Some states have created a new class of licenses that are geared to smaller operations, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs from all walks of life, with fewer licensing fees and barriers to entry. Micro-licensing (or a cannabis micro business license) often allows for vertical integrations and sets limits for operators to grow up to a specific number of plants and process these plants into a variety of extracts and edibles. The number of allotted plants differs from state to state; but this license type often allows licensees to sell their cannabis product directly to consumers, creating a win for all involved.

Below is a closer look into the east coast’s micro-licensing policies and how they directly affect and promote vertical farming and grow space optimization.

Micro business License Regulations & Requirements

While micro-licensing may seem like an easy way to start a cannabis business, it is still an expensive and lengthy process that includes ownership, size, and operational limits not imposed on other license types. In order to obtain a micro license for cannabis business production, there are many rules and regulations that must be approved by the state and municipal licensing committee.

 

Operating Space

Operating space is one of the most important factors in obtaining a micro business license. In New Jersey, proposed regulations limit the business operating space to no more than 2,500 square feet (and, in the case of cultivators, can have a height of no more than 24 feet). Exact facility regulations vary from state to state, but operational spaces are often also capped at a certain number of employees.

Production Volume

Aside from operating space, there are also many limitations on the monthly production volume for a cannabis micro business. Some states create limits of 1,000 cannabis plants per month or limits of 1,000 pounds of usable cannabis per month, and typically include infused products and concentrates. . All these numbers differ depending on location, so it is important to check with the local licensing committee to get the most up to date and accurate numbers.

The key to operating a marijuana microbusiness license is to create an efficient facility design and production plant that accounts for restrictions and limitations imposed while taking advantage of the allowances provided for micro business license operators. Staying compliant with production volume and operational restrictions is essential. Producing too much or violating space restraints can cause a fine or even worse, forfeiture of your license, thus inhibiting business growth and opportunities.

Availability of Licenses

While recreational use may be legal in the state, municipalities still have the ability to opt-out of allowing recreational sales. Once a state’s municipality has opted in, there will be a set number of annual micro business licenses available. Due to limited license availability, there is a high level of competition amongst cannabis business owners for the first spot of approval. There will be information at local municipality offices regarding permitted cannabis zoning districts, availability of licenses, and other items.

Vertical Farming Integration

As discussed before, cannabis micro business licensees are faced with many space and production volume requirements. More often than not, buildings in properly zoned areas are also in high demand and quickly sell and lease, creating a shortage of available properties. This lack of cultivation and operating space makes every square foot of the business critical.

Many potential cultivators will be forced to take what they can get and make the best of what they have. This is where vertical farming plays a vital role in the success of the micro business owner.

Maximize Fixed Spaces

Vertical farming can maximize capacity within a fixed space, making it ideal for cannabis micro-businesses to achieve production goals while staying within space constraints. Mobile vertical racking systems can accomplish this by increasing overall canopy space by the elimination of stationery aisles, by creating a more dynamic grow space.

Increase Efficiency

Keeping operational costs to a minimum is essential when starting a micro cannabis business. There are many elements in cannabis grow that contribute to overarching facility costs and return on investment. Making the switch to vertical farming will maximize the efficiency of utilities, LED lighting, irrigation, and HVAC systems. When COGS systems are well structured, increases in revenue follow shortly after. 

Essential Vertical Farming Equipment

Working with many license restraints is one of the biggest hurdles a cannabis micro business owner may face. Pipp Horticulture has developed a variety of products to help operators and micro business owners throughout the entire seed-to-sale process so they can optimize their space.

#1: Propagation

Propagation is a delicate time in a plant’s life. It’s imperative to ensure the space is sterile with consistent temperature and humidity settings ideal for early-stage development. This is why carts and shelving units need to be mobile allowing the plants to breathe and prosper in specific temperature settings. Pipp Horticulture’s space-saving products optimize the propagation process giving plants the proper environment for early development. These essential items are:

  • Cloning Carts
  • Wire Carts
  • Stationary Shelving

 #2: Vegetative

During this period of rapid growth, plants may need to be transferred to larger pots or soilless media. This ensures an ideal grow environment for roots and foliage to develop rapidly. Using a stagnant racking system can generate a disadvantage by creating difficult transfers that often require more manpower in the grow facility. Pipp Horticulture has a variety of tools that support the vegetative process and remove the difficulties of transfers. These products include:

  • Mobile Vertical Grow Racks
  • ELEVATE Platform System
  • Grow Trays
  • Vertical Air Solutions

#3: Flowering

Flowering or Bloom is the final stage of growth for the cannabis plant. Establishing a sterile, well-vented, and controlled environment will pay big dividends. Similar to the vegetative stage, these Pipp Horticulture products also aid the flowering process

  • Mobile Vertical Grow Racks
  • ELEVATE Platform System
  • Grow Trays
  • Vertical Air Solutions

#4: Harvesting

It’s critical to create an efficient system within the regulatory framework that conserves labor while minimizing touches and plant damage. This is where a facility needs easy and portable racking systems to save time and money on manpower. Pipp Horticulture can optimize this process through these key products:

  • Drying Cart
  • Nesting Dry Rack
  • Wire Grid Trays

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#5: Drying

Creating a sound thought-out post-harvest strategy is as important as the efforts spent throughout cultivation. Pipp Horticulture’s post-harvest tools are built to equip cannabis micro business owners and improve the drying process. These tools include:

  • Dry/Cure Mobile Storage System
  • Drying Cart
  • Nesting Dry Rack
  • Wire Grid Trays

#6: Cure/Storage

Depending on the scale of a facility, this phase can account for a great deal of space. A grow facility needs drying racks that deliver ease of use, safety, and long life. Pipp Horticulture’s has a line of products built to support this phase. These products include:

  • Mobile Storage System
  • Secured Storage
  • Lockable Mobile Storage System
  • Wire Grid Security Cage 

#7: Vault

It is vital that these spaces are secure and provide access control and tracking. This will ensure only the appropriate credentialed staff may enter. Grow facilities need effective locks and lockers in order to keep cannabis goods safe.  Pipp Horticulture understands the importance of cannabis security and created a variety of solutions for cannabis micro business owners. These solutions include:

  • Mobile Storage System
  • Lockable Mobile Storage System
  • Secured Storage
  • Wire Grid Security Cage
  • Lockers

#8: Distribution

During this phase, it is important to keep the product safe and isolated while also creating accessibility for testing. Pipp Horticulture provides space-saving products that ensure easy access without affecting the integrity of the plant. These products include:

  • Mobile Storage System
  • Secured Storage
  • Lockable Mobile Storage System
  • Wire Grid Security Cage

#9: Retail/Dispensary

Efficient storage in the back of the house provides more space for sales generation and the ability to carry a broader range of products. Training staff to properly retrieve and lock up cannabis is essential. Pipp Horticulture’s retail and dispensary products are built to serve the cannabis business owner. These back-of-house products are:

  • Mobile Storage System
  • Lockable Mobile Storage System
  • Secured Storage
  • Wire Grid Security Cage
  • Lockers

If proper licensing protocols are followed, owning a micro business can be a very fruitful and effective way to grow a cannabis brand. When starting a licensed grow, optimizing space is critical to getting the most out of every square foot of the facility. Pipp Horticulture’s vertical grow racks help utilize unused cubic feet by stacking multiple layers of cannabis and other high-value plants.

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