Cannabis Flower Room Using Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

Top 5 Vertical Farming Myths Busted

Vertical farming has taken the cultivation industry by storm. The ability to cultivate up to three times more has completely revolutionized the way we think about indoor farming. However, this farming method has come with many skeptics who are wary of making the switch from single-level HPS to multi-level LED. Let’s address some of the most common vertical farming concerns and advise on the best steps moving forward.

Myth #1: I’m concerned about all the extra time it will take to access and service the upper levels

One of the biggest myths within the vertical farming industry is that the ease of access to the second, third, or even fourth tier of the canopy is quite difficult. Ladders alone can be unsafe and the impact on employees throughout the day can be tiring and time-consuming. In order for multiple people to properly service the second level at once, cultivators need a way to efficiently, and safely, access the upper levels. Pipp Horticulture was driven to solve one of vertical farming’s primary challenges – how to access the upper levels. An in-house team of engineers and cultivation experts developed a solution that is now known as the patent-pending ELEVATE™ Platform System. ELEVATE™ is a modular catwalk system that creates an entire full-length walking and working aisle platform allowing cultivators to quickly and safely service the upper levels of their grow. Even before ELEVATE™, the increase in production outweighed the added labor required to service the upper levels. ELEVATE™ has taken this benefit even further.

Myth #2: We won’t be able to have people working in more than one aisle at a time

In order to have a successful and timely vertical farming operation, multiple cultivators are often needed within the same row to trim and service all the levels. Many single-tier cultivators are worried about making the shift to vertical farming due to the fear of the systems being tightly stacked near each other. Nonetheless, this is far from the truth. With vertical farming, cultivators have the freedom to design in as much aisle space as needed. An aisle of more than 24”, such as 36”, 44”, 48”, or even 60”+ enables the users to split or share aisle space, creating multiple simultaneous access points throughout the room. Unlike typical rolling AG benches, which have limited lateral movement, Pipp Horticulture rail-based systems allow for full use of the entire aisle space. This system can be applied to one specific aisle or shared throughout multiple aisles.

Myth #3: The double-density and layers will not allow for enough airflow

It’s a common misconception within the cannabis industry that multiple levels of cultivation won’t allow for proper airflow on each tier. Airflow also plays a big role in pest and disease prevention on the grow. Many single-tier farmers have gone years with HVAC systems and manual fans on their canopy and are skeptical that the entire vertical racking system will receive the same level of airflow. However, the difference in strategic airflow can be the key to a successful harvest. Vertical Air Solutions In-Rack Airflow Systems, are extremely important and beneficial in maintaining a healthy environment. The VAS system pushes filtered and CO2-infused air down the entire aisle, level by level, applying an even blanket of airflow over the entire canopy. This helps to maintain ideal humidity and temperature levels 24/7! Designed specifically for high-density vertical farms, VAS circulates the right amount of air in a way that traditional fans or air socks cannot.

Myth #4: Upper-level drainage will be very difficult

Indoor vertical farming can be broken down into three main complaints: system design, electrical structure, and plumbing/irrigation. Finding a drainage system that promotes good air porosity and nutrient retention can be difficult to find as a new grower in multilevel cultivation. But with Pipp Horticulture, it’s actually really simple. Pipp’s bulkhead drain fitting has flex hose tubing that is simply attached to the bottom of each fitting. This is directed to the tray below and to an exit pipe below the lower carriage which simplifies the drainage. Here is a gallery for references and further detail: pipphorticulture.com/gallery.

Myth #5: The rows will be hard to move, like rolling benches but even harder because they are two, three, or four levels high

It’s easy to assume that multiple tiers of the canopy will make for heavy vertical racking systems. While the maximizing canopy is appealing, many cultivators feel maneuvering their grow across multiple tiers will be challenging. To keep racking systems light and manual labor to a minimum, a mechanical-assist mobile carriage is necessary to move the in-track system. Pipp Horticulture’s Mobile Carriages are equipped with a mechanical assist and are incredibly easy to move, even at 60’ long and 3+ levels high! The dynamic gear ratio system and the 3-prong ergonomic handle enable easy and smooth movement of the carriages while converting fixed aisle space into a productive canopy.

Making The Switch

In conclusion, there are many myths that plague the vertical farming industry. Many cultivators have been misled and mistreated by cannabis farming equipment manufacturers, which has created a level of distrust. However, evidence shows that shifting from single-level cultivation to multi-level can maximize production and revenue by up to three times. It’s important to do research and evaluate a facility’s scalability to ensure vertical farming is successful and stays ahead of emerging trends. 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. Experience groundbreaking innovation in vertical farming technologies with Pipp Horticulture, contact us today!

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Drip-To-Dray Cannabis Grow Trays

How To Optimize The Cannabis Drying And Curing Process

Cannabis production strategies may differ from one facility to another, but most facilities share a common goal: to produce the highest quality product at the lowest cost. One area of the cultivation cycle that is often overlooked but has great potential for optimization is the cannabis drying and curing process.

Common Drying & Curing Processes

For many cultivators, a common drying and curing process looks like this:

  1. Harvest, weigh, and transfer cannabis to the drying room. This is usually done with the use of bins or totes.
  2. Then, one by one, manually hang the plants on wire, pipe, hangers, hooks and/or racking.
  3. Once the plants have been dried, manually remove each plant and place them back into the bins or totes.
  4. The plants are then transferred to trimmers to process the cannabis into the finished product.

Each transfer event has significant labor costs, but more importantly, they can reduce the quality of the cannabis by degrading trichomes, associated cannabinoids, and terpene content.

 

For many, LEAN farming and manufacturing is a goal and driver for the production process, but many can fall short due to the process above. Why?

It’s cost-intensive and it can reduce the quality and value of the product.

First Things First: Ditch The Bins

Many commercial growers use plastic bins or totes to help them harvest. A cheap and simple solution, binning plants have been a common method amongst growers. Unfortunately, it greatly increases labor requirements due to the many staff and non-value-adding touchpoints with the plants. These touchpoints also negatively impact the final quality of the product as the terpenes and trichomes are disturbed each time.

Bins or totes also present additional and unnecessary cross-contamination, workflow, and labor challenges. They need to be cleaned and sanitized after each batch or during daily use. Many facilities are not set up or staffed appropriately to properly clean and sanitize bins and totes regularly. In addition, bins and totes take up a tremendous amount of space, which is often not taken into consideration during the facility design process. Often stacked, if these bins are not cleaned or have been on the floor, operators risk contaminating their cannabis plants and dried flowers that come in contact with the inside of the bins.

Labor is the biggest cost for a cultivation operation. And as it so happens, the harvest and the post-harvest team is often the largest department by headcount.

By introducing equipment, such as drying carts or racks, operators can decrease their labor costs while increasing product quality, all without the use of bins or totes.

Optimize Your Drying Process

An easy way to tell them apart is to remember this: dying carts bring work to the workers while cannabis drying racks bring workers to the work.

DRYING CARTS ARE MOBILE BY DESIGN. Staff roll the drying carts without the need for hangers or hooks. The drying carts are then transferred to the drying room. Once the plants have dried, the carts are then rolled into the trimming room. The product moves efficiently around the facility with little to no touching of the actual plants.

DRYING RACKS differ in that staff must still bring plants to the racks where they manually hang from the rack. A mobile drying cart can still be used for the transfer to eliminate the use of bins or totes. However, what sets these drying racks apart from common drying setups is that the racks can span the full height of the room, taking advantage of not only total available square feet but cubic feet as well. There are pros and cons to both options. Ultimately, your operation’s capacity, efficiency, and labor demands will be the deciding factor.

Vertical Drying Racks
Cannabis drying and curing made simple with commercial drying equipment

Space Requirements

The carts must be stored when not in use, and you’ll also need adequate space in your flower room for the carts to roll through the aisles. We recommend a minimum of 28” width aisles. If you’re already tight on space in the drying rooms and are using a trellis or cable wire, installing mobile drying racks will greatly optimize your room’s plant-drying capacity. Drying racks can help transform a tight, restricted space into an efficient one that supports your scaling business. To get an idea of how much space is required for either racks or carts, we crunched some numbers for you.

Here, you can see how much square footage of drying space is required for each equipment option. For this example, let’s consider 1,000 harvested cannabis plants. The following space is required in your drying area for each solution (the range accounts for plant size and density):

• PIPP 2-tier drying carts: 300-600 sq. ft.
• PIPP 3-tier drying carts: 200-400 sq. ft.
• PIPP mobile drying racks (4-tiers): 200-400 sq. ft.

You can see that the available space in the facility is the main consideration here.

If space is not an issue, the ideal choice is drying carts for the points mentioned above: lower labor costs and higher quality product.

In Conclusion

Now that you’ve made it this far, you’re probably getting a good idea of which option (drying racks or carts) might work best for your grow space. For assistance in selecting the best drying solution for your operation, download our latest e-book or contact the team at PIPP Horticulture today!

 

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

10 Essential Vertical Farming Tools for the Ultimate Grow Room

10 Essential Vertical Farming Tools for the Ultimate Grow Room

Today cultivators are implementing and utilizing vertical farming systems and grow room equipment more than ever to maximize production capacity and maintain a competitive edge. For the foreseeable future, vertical farming and the associated technologies will continue to revolutionize and shape the production of cannabis and other high-value crops. For something so revolutionary, it’s quite simple. Vertical growing provides many advantages when done successfully.

The benefits of vertical farming include maximizing your production capacity within a fixed grow space, increased margins as production increases, and the ability to increase production with limited downtime rapidly. Using this previously unused vertical grow space is one of the easiest ways to improve total production capacity. However, effectively utilizing the majority of your space requires some upfront investment, strategic planning, researching options, and budgeting properly for grow room equipment expenditures can be the difference between success and failure. Like any large investment, you need to plan what you’re buying, why you’re buying it when to buy it, and how it will yield a return on your investment (ROI).

In this article, we’ll look at sourcing the right equipment and systems that will effectively integrate to create an optimum controlled growing environment that is efficient, productive, and free of costly miscalculations and constraints.

Why You Need to Select the Right Grow Room Equipment

If you’re going to flourish in the competitive cannabis industry, you’ll need to maximize crop yield and quality. Every square and cubic inch of canopy matter, and ensuring that every inch of plant canopy is operating with minimal downtime while receiving optimal inputs is vital to maximizing production capacity. To do this, you’ll need expertise and proper planning to calculate and integrate systems to achieve maximum results. “Saving a buck”, taking shortcuts, and miscalculations can easily bottleneck or shut down operations altogether.

Investing in the right equipment is the closest thing to crop insurance that you can buy. Putting this type of care into your facility and equipment selection translates into a better product, and overall, more efficient and profitable operation.

How the Right Vertical Farming Equipment Can Boost Your ROI 

In an increasingly competitive industry, maximizing your ROI is the key to long term success. Vertical farming is one of the best paths to achieve this, beginning with choosing the right vertical farming equipment. Making the right decisions and investing intelligently in your operation boosts your ROI in several ways.

First, it allows you to fit more plants into your grow space, increasing the quantity of your overall crop yield. Second, automated servicing across multiple layers of plants can reduce your labor costs resulting in a lower per-unit production cost. Finally, producing more grams lowers your fixed cost per unit. All of this combined lowers your total cost of goods sold (COGS), thereby increasing your bottom line and boosting your ROI.

10 Vertical Farming Equipment Necessities 

#1. Vertical Grow Racks 

The backbone of vertical & indoor farming is a mobile vertical grow rack systemPipp Horticulture’s vertical grow racks help you utilize unused cubic feet by stacking multiple layers of cannabis and other high-value plants. Using vertical grow racks can offer flexibility and cost savings as you design and scale-up production by reducing the overall building square footage, deferring or eliminating expensive relocation costs due to capacity constraints, and offering flexible tiered expansion without expensive construction and permitting processes.

So, what should you look for when choosing your rack system? Strength and durability in a high-humidity environment. Your grow racks are the skeleton of your operation. The bones provide structure and accommodate all your cannabis plants and equipment, including fans, lights, trays, and irrigation. Your racking and mobile carriage should be constructed with high-strength steel and must have a high capacity to ensure as many plants as possible can fit and grow on each row. The 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 most importantly – safely. This patent-pending system was designed to integrate with PIPP’s Bulk Rack Shelving Systems without any modifications. The ELEVATE™ Platform System can be installed on new or existing mobile vertical grow racks.

ELEVATE™ Platform System

You want a UV-stable, anti-microbial, and fungal-resistant finish that is simple to keep clean and sanitized while giving your cultivation space a professional appearance. Finally, you’ll want to feel confident in the craftsmanship and the ability to last a long time through consistent usage in a damp and corrosive environment.

 

#2. Mobile Carriages 

Just as crucial as choosing the right racks is selecting and correctly installing the associated mobile carriages. If your grow racks are the skeleton of your grow space, the mobile carriages are the muscles, moving the bones around where they need to go.

This mobility is a critical function for optimizing your vertical farm’s capacity and workflow. If you’ve ever been in a library or back-of-house retail stockroom, chances are you’ve seen mobile carriages in action. Pipp’s mobile carriage offerings allow a user to effortlessly move huge racks or shelving units to maximize space and eliminate static aisles between each rack.

When choosing your mobile carriages, keep in mind that they must meet ADA compliance standards. Carriages should utilize in-track anti-tip features that provide worker safety and are often mandatory in states with seismic regulations.

You’ll also want to ensure all components are corrosion and oxidation-resistant. A mechanical-assist drive system allows for the effortless movement of each rack. Selecting the right mobile carriages helps utilize every possible square and cubic inch of space and ensures reliable performance while avoiding operational failure and downtime caused by corrosion and breakdown of cheap components.

Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

#3. Grow Trays 

Once you’ve built the framework or skeleton, it’s time to fill it out with grow trays, the organs, metaphorically speaking. They give your cannabis plants home and provide the foundation and/or mounting points for your lighting, air circulation, and plumbing. Pipp’s grow trays, designed for durability, can be used for both drip-to-drain and ebb-and-flow irrigation. Pipp trays come with UV-stability, anti-microbial, and fungal-resistance properties and feature a built-in trough for easy drainage to ensure a clean, sanitary and productive vertical growing environment.

#4. Lighting 

Along with water and air, lights provide your cannabis plants the crucial input needed for cannabis to grow healthy, and vigorously, and produce high concentrations of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other actives.

Vertical farming typically utilizes LED lights on each growing tier. While this upfront investment can be expensive, the reduced installation costs and continuous energy savings (when compared to HPS lighting) lower your production cost/gram. Most cultivation facilities recoup their upfront premium within several harvests.

When selecting your vertical farming lights, you’ll want to ensure the light spectrum, intensity, and layout are adequate for your needs, typically between 750 and 1500 PPFD. Ideally, flex-wiring or “daisy chain” functionality will allow for reduced electrical work and installation costs. Additionally, you’ll want your lights rated IP65 or IP66 for wet environments, easily dimmable, and capable of providing an even distribution of PPFD across the entire fixture.

Warranty and service should also be taken into consideration when making your final decision on lighting. With all these components, we recommend utilizing proven systems with verifiable installations and operational customers willing to provide positive testimonials. Working with reputable manufacturers provides assurance and support as you determine lighting, cooling, and other crucial calculations necessary to create the ideal growing environment.

#5. Air Flow 

Helping your plants thrive in a vertical growing environment requires ensuring that they get adequate amounts of clean air. Providing sufficient airflow is imperative to plant health and mitigating pests and pathogens throughout your facility. Vertical farming operations have unique air circulation needs. Due to obstructions and restrictions created by infrastructure and the multiple tiers of cultivation, microclimates can form if the design and execution is not done correctly.

Adapting to these challenges is critical for ensuring adequate airflow and thorough fresh air exchanges. You must provide a grow room air circulation system on each level of plants that’s capable of supplying consistent conditioned air to the canopy and sub-canopy across the entire run, with minimal variation. Some airflow systems like Vertical Air Solutions provide additional capabilities, including air sanitization and Co2 enrichment.

#6. HVAC

Your HVAC system is metaphorically like the lungs of a vertical growing system. It brings in fresh air and expels used air through the ventilation system, keeping the air clean, moving, and well-regulated within the set temperature and humidity parameters to ensure your cannabis plants thrive. Keeping your HVAC clean and sanitary allows for regular, fresh-treated air exchange and prevents the growth of mildew, mold, bacteria, and other pathogens in the air.

When choosing your HVAC system, it’s essential to determine the adequate cooling and heating loads specific to your production plan. In addition, you must consider the irrigation rates and dehumidification need to remove excess transpiration.

Most cultivators elect for redundancy in HVAC equipment to ensure continuous operations if one or more systems are down for service or malfunctioning. Also, consider maintenance and servicing these systems, are parts and service personnel nearby and readily available. It is a standard best practice to keep a backup of spare parts prone to breaking and/or have extended lead times.

#7. Irrigation and Fertigation Systems

Similar to previously discussed vertical farming equipment components, irrigation and fertigation systems, and corresponding controls require design, installation, and commissioning to provide coverage for current and future plant layouts and plant feeding strategies. Consistent water and nutrients are essential for cannabis plants. Proper irrigation and fertigation arrangement could be the difference between growing weak plants and producing robust and cannabinoid-rich harvests through various crop steering techniques.

Several well-established companies are operating in this sector, providing irrigation and fertigation systems and controls to commercial farmers worldwide. Utilizing proven providers with cannabis experience will ensure proper functionality and integration. Automated irrigation systems are an excellent way to achieve efficiency, reduce water consumption, and reduce costly and grueling labor often associated with manual fertilizing and hand watering. Be sure to select irrigation and fertigation components that are compatible and integrate with your other grow controls, sensors, and monitors.

#8. Grow Sensor and Monitors 

One of the most high-tech evolutions in cannabis growing is the proliferation of grow sensors and monitors and the robust data now available to growers to help make data-driven solutions. These tools offer both a macro and micro view of your entire grow operation, with in-depth analytics including air temperature, soil temperature, pH, humidity, VPD, lighting, and substrate moisture, among others.

Digitally analyzing your cultivation space allows expert growers to combine their earned expertise with insights located in a simple digital dashboard to optimize vertical cannabis growing conditions. When selecting these components, they must have open API and integrate with other systems and controls to provide real-time alerts and provide feedback to modulate other components that maintain set parameters.

#9. Mobile Carts 

With a solid infrastructure of vertical grow racks, mobile carriages, and grow trays in place, your vertical farm setup is starting to take shape. While space maximization and optimization have been our main focus throughout this article, we’ve yet to address one of the critical activities of all cannabis operations: harvesting and drying plants.

Now that you’ve optimized the cultivation areas, it’s only right to extend these concepts into the processing and drying areas to maximize the space and create efficient workflow and processes.  Pipp’s mobile cannabis drying racks quickly move from flowering rooms to processing and drying areas, making for an efficient, gentle, and sanitary transition from harvest to drying. It’s a smart idea to invest in a few other general mobile carts for storage and transportation to keep the team safe in the grow space, as accidents are more likely to occur when someone is carrying around large loads of gear or plants.

The ideal drying cart is designed and constructed for durability and flexibility to accommodate hanging plants or bucked cannabis to dry/cure/process harvested material. Carts should be adjustable and have various trays or hanging options like cantilever-style finger attachments allowing for custom configuration based on specific plant structure, process, and intended use. Additional features like nesting bases, security cages, and anti-microbial and fungal-resistance coatings are available.

#10. Storage Lockers 

Cannabis growing operations have to ensure the safety of their employees, communities, facilities, and product. This is a multi-faceted challenge that requires keeping close track of everything that enters and exits the building. Government regulators must quickly identify the quantity and quality of your product down to the gram. Given this scrutiny level, it’s key to create processes and procedures that prevent product diversion and maintain a sanitary production facility.

Developing in/out flow controls, employee clean-up rooms, sanitation, and cleanliness policies, and investing in high-quality storage lockers, like those produced at Pipp are great ways to ensure safety and provide workers with the peace of mind that their belongings are safe. Various options, including multi-tier, see-through, and coatings, are available.

 Common Vertical Farming Equipment Mistakes

Now that we’ve reviewed the main components of a vertical farming system let’s address some of the most common vertical farming equipment mistakes.  

 

Believing the investment is out of budget and seeking cheaper and inferior options.

Financial constraint is the most common reason for choosing a suboptimal solution. But don’t let a lack of cash limit your options. Securing capital without traditional institutional lenders can make capitalizing a cannabis operation challenging. However, as the industry develops and becomes more mainstream, funding and leasing options for cultivation equipment are becoming more readily available with terms equivalent to those provided to other sectors. Working with Pipp’s team to create a phasing plan for purchasing and installing growing equipment can help defer some capital expenditures to future expansion phases.

Undercutting the operation by miscalculating and skimping on equipment.

By miscalculating or buying less output or capacity than required for optimal performance, you may overextend and wear out undersized equipment, severely impeding your operation from fully maximizing and capitalizing on the advantages of vertical farming. Upfront investment in adequate infrastructure supports operations that generate profit, providing funding for future expansion as demand increases.

Pipp Horticulture Cannabis Grow

Failure to design grow space for vertical farming.

Vertical farming success hinges on strategic planning, calculations, and design. Getting the Pipp Team involved early in the design process can significantly augment your overall production capacity. While the equipment can dynamically move around your grow space, calculating ideal room sizes and configurations that maximize your canopy can increase production capacity by up to 55%.

How Pipp Horticulture Can Help

This piece was an informative and helpful review of vertical farming vs. conventional farming and the various components that integrate to create an optimized cultivation facility. Though we covered much information, there is much more detail and nuance that sets up and operates a vertical farm. When you are ready to learn more and begin planning a vertical grow, Pipp Horticulture can help you with expert advice and industry-leading vertical farming equipment.

We offer the best in vertical grow racks, mobile carriages, grow trays, mobile carts, and storage lockers to optimize your vertical cannabis growing operation. Contact the Pipp Horticulture team today for a complimentary consultation to maximize your facility’s potential.

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT: TRAK-FREE™ CARRIAGE

NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT: TRAK-FREE™ CARRIAGE

NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT: TRAK-FREE™ CARRIAGE

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

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

*Patent-Pending

TRAK-FREE™ CARRIAGE

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

The Future of Cannabis is Growing Vertical

The Future of Cannabis is Growing Vertical

As the cannabis industry matures, cannabis growers must stay informed on new vertical farming technology and improved cultivation practices. Here at Pipp Horticulture, we are continuously developing and optimizing vertical farming systems for cannabis and other high-value crops. These cultivation systems and methods will take your operation to another level, literally, by utilizing the vertical dimension (height) to maximize your production capacity.

Vertical growing can significantly increase your facility’s output by improving on antiquated single-level and static canopy layouts by utilizing the unused horizontal and vertical space above and between your canopy to increase your production capabilities. Vertical growing methods have taken a foothold in an industry that is scaling and becoming more efficient. Whether you’re new to vertical growing or need a refresher, in this article, we will examine the following and much more:

● What is vertical growing, and what are its advantages
● How vertical growing can improve growing capacity, efficiency, and ROI
● What equipment is needed to set up a vertical growing operation
● A case study about how Leafline Labs reclaimed wasted grow space

Vertical Growing Vs. Other Methods

For something that can have such an exponential impact on your operation, vertical growing is pretty straightforward. It involves using the previously unused space above and between your plants to increase your total yield capacity. Constructing additional layers of cultivation space above your typical single-level operation allows more cannabis to grow in the same square footage. Similar to the way an apartment building stacks identical levels atop the lobby, allowing more people to live.

While there is often some additional planning and capital expenditures upfront, vertical growing is an exponential boost to your growing capacity without the need to acquire or build additional cultivation space. Vertical growing offers clear advantages over other cultivation methods including:

● Outdoor: While a classic cannabis cultivation method, setting up your grow operation outdoors means sacrificing control over your environment, and dealing with the inevitable invasion of pests, and unpredictable weather.

● Greenhouse: Greenhouse growing helps combat some of the problems of outdoor growing but can be costly and restrictive in maximizing space when designed to accommodate single-level growing benches.

● Single Level Indoor: Improved environmental control, reduced issues with the ambient environment, and consistent lighting, indoor growing is the cannabis growing method of choice for many commercial cultivators. However, like greenhouse growing, single-level indoor growing creates production limitations. Whereas vertical growing stacks plants in the same space to double, triple (or more!) your total plant capacity and increase your yields accordingly.

Top 7 Advantages of Vertical Cannabis Growing

No matter what form of vertical cannabis growing you choose, vertical farming offers a wide range of advantages. The use of vertical space and accompanying concentration of plants offers efficiencies of both scale and workflow to help you get the most out of your cannabis grow operation. These include:

● Maximization of production capacity within a fixed space.
● Increased horizontal canopy space by the elimination of stationery aisles, by creating a more dynamic grow space.
● More efficient use of utilities, through LED lighting, and closed-loop irrigation systems that capture and reuse water.
● Providing a consistent cultivation platform for multi-state operations (MSOs) to standardize, streamline, and expand outputs within and beyond the current cultivation footprint.
● Reducing the necessity of relocating or acquiring additional production capacity as demand grows, by optimizing the total production capabilities of your existing space.
● Improved employee safety and ergonomics by utilizing platforms and lifts that adjust to optimal work height.
● Ability to increase production with limited downtime. Eliminate construction, permitting, and buildout by creating a production phasing plan that incorporates Pipp Racking that can expand quickly by simply adding additional levels as additional production is required.

Pipp Rolling Aisle System
Double Level Grow Room under Fluence Vyprx

Why Choose A Vertical Grow System

The primary way that vertical grow systems boost your production capacity is by designing your grow space in a way that maximizes the cubic cultivation capacity while providing a consistent optimal environment for your plants.

In this highly competitive industry where margins are continually tightening, every detail, or every cubic foot or meter matters to produce higher-quality cannabis for less. A huge component of this is designing the grow space to be as effective and efficient as possible. If you’re interested in learning more about cultivation facility design, you can check out this in-depth video with tips from industry experts!

One of the unique aspects of vertical growing is that your operation’s design shapes your growing process, workflow, and vice versa. By combining the advantages of vertical growing with the design and process thinking outlined above, you can address limitations and expansion goals.

How Vertical Cannabis Farming Can Improve Efficiency & ROI

Along with the production capacity advantages vertical cannabis farming provides, it also helps reduce costs and leads to a more efficient operation.

Beyond optimizing your grow space in the ways we’ve discussed above, which will lower your overall COGS, vertical cannabis growing reduces your canopy costs in the long term too. Perhaps the most significant investment for an expanding cannabis company is purchasing or building a new cultivation space or adding on to an existing facility to accommodate increasing demand.

Vertical growing disrupts this potential endeavor. The thought of building out multiple levels of lights and racks in all your rooms might make your head spin. However, through a phased approach, you can begin to install racks and infrastructure to the first level and go vertical as demand, time, and investment permit.

In this way, growing capacity is easily increased without permitting, construction, or significant downtime, giving your operation greater flexibility and a higher ROI.

The Future of Growing is Vertical

Another reason to pursue vertical growing in your cannabis operation is because of several looming issues with traditional farming and agriculture that will affect the cannabis industry.

First off, land constraints and population increase will drive the need to rethink how we farm, and lead many cultivators to pursue more economical urban grow operations. In the near future, indoor vertical farming will likely enable you to buy tropical fruit from within 100 miles of where you live, and the same goes for cannabis. A move towards indoor, vertical farming will reduce the strain that our current agricultural and cannabis industry puts on the environment.

Another relevant movement is the imposition of LED light regulations on indoor cultivators. Motivated by LED bulbs’ superior energy efficiency over other less efficient bulbs, states like California are proposing legislation that will require all indoor cultivators to use only LED lights by 2023. This would cost millions to most growers, leading to significant advantages for those that have already or currently implementing vertical grow systems throughout their cultivation facilities. Vertical farming is a solution to the impending agricultural constraints, both physical and governmental. It’s time to explore and benefit from the possibilities.

Understanding Essential Vertical Growing Equipment

To benefit from all of the advantages of vertical growing we’ve outlined so far requires an understanding of what equipment you need, and why. While rethinking your grow operation can reap huge rewards, it can also backfire if you don’t put in the proper forethought into your facility design and cannabis production plan.

There are many different aspects to consider when choosing your vertical grow equipment, including:

● How the grow racks fit in your grow facility, to maximize utilization of the space, accommodate the necessary working space around the racks, and ensure perpetual production with limited downtime.
● Proper light spacing and distance from canopy, to maximize the effectiveness of lighting coverage.
● Your HVAC and airflow needs, to keep fresh, clean air in your grow space
● An understanding of microclimates within your grow space, so you can better control them.
Shelf strength and capacity to provide all your plants a safe and sturdy home
● Proper surface material and sanitization routines, to prevent contaminants.
● Safe and ergonomic approach to plant maintenance across all levels and grow phases.

A Case Study: Leafline Labs

Leafline Labs is one of our customers who we helped to capitalize on wasted vertical space. They were forecasting an increase in demand for their high-quality medical cannabis but worried about the significant vertical space they were wasting.

Leafline also wanted to increase its current facility’s cultivation capacity, through mobile, multi-level vertical growing systems. This meant we had to consider the impact on current production and harvest cycles, with thoughtful planning to minimize disruption.

We helped them convert from a traditional HPS, single-level canopy design to a mobile multi-level LED setup. We installed our double tier, high-density vertical grow rack system, and our patent-pending Drip-to-Drain Trays and HDPE Inserts.
We worked closely with LeafLine Labs’ construction and electrician teams to ensure a smooth, speedy, and successful installation. The implementation of our mobile cultivation systems resulted in an impressive 140% increase in canopy space, a decrease in radiant heat, minimized evaporation, and a reduction in the amount of water required for growing.

“Besides the great sales & support team at Pipp, the expertise in cannabis and horticulture that Pipp can provide to the growers using their systems has been amazing,” said Emily Kowalski, Vice President of Cultivation for LeafLine Labs.

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Sanitizing and Cleaning the Cannabis Grow Room Part III: HVAC & Air Systems

Sanitizing and Cleaning the Cannabis Grow Room Part III: HVAC & Air Systems

In Part I of our Sanitization Series, we outlined the importance of keeping to a regular inspection and cleaning schedule, and the difference between sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing your grow room.

In Part II, we discussed how to sanitize your plants and substrate, and how cultivators can prevent damage and loss to crops from bacteria, fungi, pests, and plant diseases.  

To conclude our Sanitization series, Part III delves into the importance of sanitizing your grow room HVAC system and the air in your grow room. We’ll dive into proactive and reactive measures to achieve clean HVAC and air systems to prevent pathogens and pests and improve crop yields and quality.

Why HVAC/Air Sanitization is Vital

The air in your grow room is as important to successful and healthy crops as the surfaces and plant substrates. Keeping the air in your cannabis cultivation grow space sanitized and free of microbes, pests, and pollutants saves you time, energy, and money while improving plant health, reducing crop loss, and avoiding expensive and labor-intensive battles with microscopic invaders.

First, let’s take a look at the difference between sanitization and sterilization. Sanitization involves regular, surface-level cleaning, such as wiping up a spill, or cleaning tools. Sanitization is an integral part of the growing process and vital to regularly producing quality crop yields. Sterilization takes this approach to clean down to a microscopic scale, to rid a grow space of bacteria and microbes. Think of sanitization as wiping down a counter with a regular wet cloth, and sterilization as wiping the counter down with an antimicrobial wipe.

Now, to apply the sanitization/sterilization distinction to our subject of HVAC and air. You always want to keep your grow space as clean as possible, aiming for sterilization wherever viable. In reality, microbes exist in the fresh air, and the air we breathe out with every breath, so totally sterilizing your air is beyond the capacities of most growers. Focus on sterilizing the surfaces of your HVAC system, along with your surfaces and tools. Sanitization is a more achievable goal when it comes to your grow space air.

As with the other areas of sanitization we’ve examined in this series, failing to sanitize your grow space air or HVAC system can lead to adverse outcomes, such as:

  • Total crop loss
  • Reduced crop yield and quality
  • Increased spending on bactericides, fungicides or biologicals
  • Time/energy wasted on preventable issues
  • Bad publicity from products failing lab tests
  • Negative impact on the company and its brands’ reputation

The cannabis industry has become increasingly competitive, and this will only continue. It’s important to recognize that small investments in sanitization upfront can significantly minimize the risk of these costly events. If you’re part of a vertically integrated operation, these adverse outcomes can affect your entire supply chain, leading to further repercussions.

Trulieve/Harvest - Pipp Horticulture Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

How To Approach HVAC and Air Sanitization

To evaluate several critical things cannabis grow can do to maintain clean air and airways, we’ll look at both proactive and reactive measures. Proactive measures are routine cleaning activities, and investment in tools made to prevent any incidents. On the other hand, reactive measures are actions made in direct response to a sanitary problem after it has occurred.

Proactive Measures: Equipment

  • Regular Fresh Air Exchange: The ‘V’ in HVAC stands for ‘ventilation,’ which is crucial for your cannabis grow operation. Ensure that your ventilation system is sized correctly to exchange and circulate fresh air throughout your grow room and doesn’t miss any stagnant spots that can result in mold and mildew.
  • HEPA Filters: Cannabis growing conditions are often a breeding ground for unwanted contaminants. Using a high-quality HEPA filter helps your commercial grow operation thrive by ensuring air quality in the space is as clean of contaminants as can be.
  • Photo Catalytic Oxidation (PCO): PCO is an organic protection method against common crop pathogens. It allows growers to produce high-quality yields that align with regulations.
  • Multi-Cluster Ionization (MCI): MCI, kills molds, mildews, bacteria, and more using a Dielectric Barrier Ionizer (DBI). The ions that a DBI creates are more stable and powerful than those of competing technologies.
  • Probiotic Air Treatments: Another great way to keep your air sanitized is through probiotic air treatments. Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ that promote healthy ecosystems and restore the natural balance that is difficult to maintain in indoor grow spaces.

Strategic Conditioned Air Supply: This air supply is used to ensure consistent environmental conditions throughout the grow cycle. Without it, short cycling can occur, and this leads to stagnant air and microclimate issues. Sterilization and purification are important, but the first line of defense is creating an environment un-conducive to pathogens in the first place. The air supplied from your HVAC system needs to be supplied and returned strategically, with the specific racking and plant layout considered.

Proactive Measures: Routine

Along with proactive measures, it’s important to develop a rigorous sanitization routine to catch issues before they spiral out of control. Your HVAC/air sanitization routine should include:

  • Regular Equipment Checks and Maintenance to ensure that your grow room ventilation system is working properly. If you find something out of order and can’t figure out a fix, call an HVAC maintenance professional, as things can turn for the worse quickly.
  • HVAC/Air Circulation System Maintenance on both a monthly and yearly basis. Monthly tasks include removing/replacing the filter, inspecting the finger guards and fan blades for debris, and wiping down the air mixing chamber with acetone. Annual tasks include cleaning out the entire duct runs, which is generally a two-person job.
  • Humidity Monitoring is important because mold and mildew thrive in humid conditions. Humidity is also a vital factor in the f quality and yield of a crop. Keeping humidity and temperature at optimal levels, relative to each other, will make a huge difference in your output. Investing in a quality hygrometer or other environmental sensors and alarms can keep tabs on your grow room’s humidity levels.
  • Surface Sampling informs you when your grow space air is contaminating the surfaces in your grow area. Companies like 3M offer kits that enable you to collect samples, prepare them for testing, and process the tests, to give you a quality snapshot of the microbial state on grow room surfaces.
  • Consistent Air Circulation: Without consistent circulation throughout your entire grow space, powdery mildew and botrytis will establish where there isn’t adequate air circulation. Providing consistent, laminar airflow will ensure a healthy canopy and prevent the spread of pathogens.
  • Pruning and Canopy Maintenance: All of these environmental strategies are only beneficial when paired with proper plant work. Pruning and canopy maintenance ensures that airflow and light can penetrate the canopy and eliminate stagnant air pockets, which is huge for pathogen control. Removing excessive plant material provides space in the canopy, and makes it easier to control humidity levels, as there is less leaf surface transpiring in the room.

Reactive Measures

Pest infestations or contaminant outbreaks are a near inevitability when it comes to growing cannabis, no matter how well you follow the above steps. That’s why it’s important to understand what to do when one occurs. If your grow room ventilation has been overrun by pathogens or pests, you should:

  • Isolate infected plants to slow the spread
  • Detect the source of the outbreak
  • Treat the issue using the proper remedies

Pathogens/Microbes

If your grow space ventilation has failed, leading to a pathogen or microbe outbreak, many of the above proactive treatments will cleanse the infection source, such as PCO, MCI, and probiotic air treatments. Foliar treatments like ZeroTol, a ‘biosafe’ algaecide, bactericide, and fungicide, kill pathogens while preventing crop damage, but should be applied cautiously, especially late in flower.  In severe situations, it may be necessary to harvest early to avoid a total crop loss.

Pests

An excellent way to detect a pest outbreak is by laying fly strips around your grow space to indicate increased insect activity. Many other pests will be hard to spot without a trained eye. Identify the particular outbreak visually and then create a specific treatment plan. Several actions can help stop the spread of an outbreak, including:

● Removing excess soil moisture to prevent larvae from hatching
● Regular leaf checks to understand the outbreak scope
● Spraying your plant with hard water to dislodge insects
● Vacuuming your plants (with a weaker, handheld vacuum, to remove pests

The Sanitization Battle Continues

We hope this exploration into the fundamentals of sanitization and sterilization, from your grow room surfaces, plants and substrates, to your HVAC system and grow room ventilation system, has shown that your fight against contaminants is complex but winnable.

Whether you’re looking to begin a vertical grow operation, or just have a general question, contact Pipp Horticulture today. We’re always happy to help enthusiastic cannabis growers!

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Sanitizing and Cleaning the Cannabis Grow Room: Part II Plants & Substrate

Sanitizing and Cleaning the Cannabis Grow Room: Part II Plants & Substrate

In Part 1 of this series, we wrote about the importance of grow room sanitation and a regular inspection and cleaning schedule. We also covered ground on the difference between sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing the grow space. In this article, we’ll cover the sanitization of plants and substrates and the ways cultivators can prevent damage and loss to their crop from bacteria, fungi, pests, and plant diseases by cleaning their grow room on a regular basis.

A Preventative Approach

There are many methods to anticipate and treat issues early in the garden. One commonly utilized strategy for keeping plants clean of pests is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM applies a combination of techniques that are environmentally sound and reduce the need for pesticides.

Preventing pest problems before they arise saves time, money, and possibly the whole crop. The common methods for prevention using IPM include:

  • Creating uninviting environmental conditions in the grow space
  • Increasing sanitization of your cannabis grow room
  • Enabling plant and soil systemic resistance
  • Designing your grow room and airflow properly
  • Use of Beneficial Insects
  • Use of approved pesticides when required

Scouting and tracking for pests are one of the best preventative methods any cultivation facility can employ to get ahead of issues. Cultivators also set up spore traps around their grow rooms that are then lab-tested to identify what molds might be present. The results help guide the operation as to what processes and treatments are needed to sanitize their grow space properly. Accurate identification of pests and pathogens is crucial to deciding the method of treatment response.

Clones

The clone room growing environment is a perfect breeding ground for molds and fungus. Clones need humidity and warm temps. In addition, when they’ve first been cut, they are under a lot of stress and can be susceptible to fungus like powdery mildew. Powdery mildew can be challenging to get rid of once it spreads. It is crucial to identify the source in the grow room immediately. If the cultivation facility takes clones from its own mother plants, that is the first place to regularly inspect for early signs. If the mother plant is infected, all clones from it will be too. In this case, starting fresh with new and clean mother plants is the best option.

If your cultivation facility gets clones from a nursery, there are certain precautions that must be followed to prevent issues from entering the cannabis grow rooms. Clones should be inspected for pest and disease issues prior to purchase from nurseries. An easy process to implement in a grow room is thorough sanitizing when bringing clones in from outside the facility. A good practice is to isolate and quarantine the new clones before introducing them to the mother or vegetative production areas. During this time, inspect and treat thoroughly for pests or plant diseases and treat them prior to transitioning.

All tools, equipment, and surfaces must be sterilized thoroughly. Plastics such as pots, trays, and domes should also be cleaned and sterilized prior to use in the clean grow room. 91% or greater Isopropyl alcohol diluted 30% with water is commonly used for tool and surface sanitation. Hydrogen dioxide, hydrogen peroxide, and peroxyacetic acid are commonly used to clean plants and/or surfaces. The frequency between sterilization is up to you. Some growers clean all tools daily while others between plants so as not to spread infection. The level of risk management is a personal decision.

Plants

Most growers separate their plants into dedicated cannabis grow rooms based on the plant cycle: mother, clone, veg and flower stages. When designing an indoor vertical grow facility, planning for dedicated, clean grow rooms helps mitigate risk factors plants face. If one room is infected or compromised, the team can fully address and sanitize the individual room without affecting the progress in the other rooms. Some growers choose to keep the mother plants in the same grow room as the veg plants to save on grow space. Most growers keep the mother plants in a designated area separate from veg plants to reduce the risk of cross-contamination (both pest and disease) between older and younger plants.

Post-Harvest

Just as preparing a sanitized environment is important to preventing crop failure, so is the resetting of your indoor grow room to a neutralized, clean environment that’s ready for its next round. After all the plants have been cut and transferred from the grow room to the drying room, clear all supplies from the area and remove any plant matter from the ground and trays. In addition, clean all surfaces of dried nutrients and plant matter which are food for pathogens and fungi.

Hydrogen peroxide and dioxide solutions as well as other chemical cleaners disinfect the surfaces without leaving any residue while keeping your grow room clean. Ensure the concentration of hydrogen dioxide is safe for handling and always follow the label as directed.

Grow Medium

With the exception of no-till living organic soil practices, the substrate should be new from the packaging and inspected for quality prior to use. Substrates such as rockwool and hydroton are considered to be sterile media in comparison to soil-less hydroponic mixes and soils which can sometimes have unwanted pests, like root aphids, that hitchhike along. In some cases where cultivators are reusing their substrate, growers are disinfecting before using again through methods such as steam sterilization.

Tools of the Trade

There are tried and true modern technologies in the commercial cultivator’s toolkit for growing cannabis and surface sanitization. Post-harvest cleaning with bio-foamers and/or bio-foggers are very effective in treating racking, trays, surfaces and floors. The bio-fogger uses microdroplets that enable you to get into impossible-to-reach nooks and crannies for a deeper level of sanitizing through improved surface contact.

It’s also beneficial to use equipment that is anti-microbial and fungal-resistant like PIPP’s Vertical Grow Racks in conjunction with their Drip-to-Drain or ABS Combination Grow Trays. The trays come with optional HDPE inserts and have a white powder coat finish that is UV-stable and anti-microbial and fungal resistant.

Sanitization Practices

Keeping your grow room clean and tidy is the easiest preventative method. Clean up and remove dead leaves, stems, substrate and water from the floor or and in the grow space. Pests and diseases are looking for homes, so limiting their options is an easy preventative measure. Any plant material that is trimmed off plants must be removed from the grow room after completion of tasks. Green waste and trash should be stored outside the grow room to further ensure a clean growing environment. Tools should be kept off the floor on a workbench or wall. Keep a sanitizing solution of isopropyl alcohol nearby and instruct employees to sterilize the tools before and after use.

In this Part 2 of the Sanitization series, we’ve covered Integrative Pest Management and grow room cleaning best practices for plants and substrates. We’re now ready for the last part of this series. In part 3, we’ll be talking about the sanitization of air and HVAC systems.

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

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

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

Get a FREE Grow Consultation

Designing Your Grow Room: Top Tips From Industry Experts

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

Get a FREE Grow Consultation