Increasing the square footage of your commercial grow space can help increase your ROI. This means cramming as many plants as possible into the grow room without sacrificing quality or yield.
There are several reasons you might want to maximize your canopy footprint. For example, in areas where real estate is valuable, such as cities like Los Angeles or New York, every square foot can make a difference to your bottom line. Or you expect higher returns without expanding your business.
Whatever your reasons, there are 4 main ways to ensure you get the most out of your indoor farm.
1. GO VERTICAL
Indoor farming has the luxury of being able to grow incrementally. Tiered vertical grow rack allow you to expand your plant crown without adding additional floor space. Instead, expand your dome in cubic feet.
If you grow green vegetables, greens, herbs, berries, etc., you will most likely choose a vertical farm. Because these plants tend to be small and compact, they are very easy to grow in layers so they don't need a lot of space between them. Therefore, you can accommodate a lot of them in one room.
However, when you grow cannabis, you have a slightly more difficult choice. The cannabis plant is tall and requires more vertical height than many other plant varieties that can be grown in a controlled environment. This means you can fit fewer plants in one space. Commercial cannabis growers need to consider the type of shelving they will be using, their water volume, and HVAC requirements before deciding which is best for their ROI.
When deciding whether to grow vertically, consider the grow room equipment you will need:
Vertical Grow Racks: You will need to invest in multi-tiered incremental shelving. There are many options that differ in brand, quality, mobility, height and method of watering. You also need to make sure your employees can access each level via stairs, lifts or other vertical transportation.
LED Lights: Traditionally, high power HPS lamps have been the preferred lighting method in horticulture. However, LEDs are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy saving potential and reduced waste heat. Because they emit less heat than other light sources, LEDs reduce the vertical space required between the lamp and the plant. This allows you to grow in vertical layers instead of being limited to single-layer indoor plants and greenhouses.
HVAC: Adding more plants, more light, and more water to a room will affect your HVAC needs. Your system must handle a higher cooling load and handle more humidity. You also need adequate air movement to avoid pockets of hot and humid air, which usually requires a special system that includes grow racks and ventilation.
2. CREATE A MOTION PATH
Most commercial indoor farms today use mobile benches and vertical grow racks. By sliding the movable bench and movable shelves from side to side, you can create aisles when needed and expand your growing space without taking up additional floor space. There are several ways that a grow bench can be mobilized.
Mobile benches are the most common method among single-floor options. The legs are fixed to the floor, while casters under the table allow the table top to move from side to side, creating a domino effect along the other tables in the room.
Stools work the same way, but instead of having fixed legs, the table top is stationary and the legs can move along rails on the floor. Mobile vertical grower systems operate in a similar way, except they are powered by a system of wheels and rollers rather than pushing the rack itself. This makes them easy to move with plants.
Because shelving and movable benches allow you to maintain one aisle per space, you can fit more rows of plants in the grow room. It's important to work with your mechanical engineer to ensure you provide adequate cooling, drying, and even airflow throughout the room.
3. OPTIMIZE YOUR LAYOUT
When designing the layout of your facility, keep your workflow in mind. Your architect should understand the growth cycle of plants when creating your floor plan.
For example, a vertically integrated cannabis grower may require special facilities for clone, veg, flower, drying, and extraction, all safely separated from the front of a retail pharmacy. These rooms usually have different size requirements. For example, because it is customary to allocate 1 square foot of vegetative canopy for every 4 square feet of flowering canopy, the vegetable space is smaller and less dense than the flower space.
Job-optimized factory layouts can increase productivity and minimize costs, allowing you to get the most out of your operations. The venue design should also be designed taking into account the choice of benches and lighting. This will help you avoid wasting space or surprising obstacles that could hurt your bottom line.
4. INCREASE RESUITS
Adding more plants to a room may not be the shortest path to success. In fact, adding more plants to a room, especially vertically, will put more stress on your HVAC system because it releases more moisture into the air and requires more light. However, there are several methods you can use to increase the yield of your plants.
Below are some examples of areas that could play an important role in mining production. It's important to note that there are many variables that affect your yield, including plant variety, environment, watering, nutrition, lighting, airflow, biosafety and more.
If you are already an operator, research and development is key to determining which method will work best for your operation. So be sure to test your method on a small sample of plants before making any changes to the rest of your growth.
If you are still planning your project, work closely with your facility design team to ensure they understand your expectations and the planned growth method.
Some growers claim to maximize their yields through light manipulation. There are many aspects of lighting that can affect your crop, including:
Grow Light Selection (Brand, HPS vs. LED, PPD, etc.)
Distance between plants and lighting fixtures
Lighting and dimming plan
There are many factors that contribute to the health of your plants, but a lighting recipe can present an interesting area to experiment with.
Enjoy maximum results!
If you need to build a new indoor farm, expand, or repair an underperforming facility, contact us below. Our experienced team of engineers, architects and project managers are happy to help bring your vision to life.