Maximizing Space and Yield with Advanced Cultivation Techniques

One of the best ways to maximize a facility space is to go vertical. Multi-tier growing is becoming the new norm, and with good reason. Cultivators have found that the initial investment and extra effort are well worth the increased yield and revenue.

Traditionally, cannabis was grown in one large single layer with HPS (high pressure sodium) lights. On the other hand, multi-tier cultivations utilize advanced technology, LED lights, and are usually two to three levels high. HPS lights do not function efficiently in this type of set up due to their large size and thermal output. LEDs have paved the way for more energy, space and resource efficient grows.

Multi-level facilities need to be carefully planned with the help of professionals or experienced cultivators. When doubling or tripling canopy, every square foot counts! Don’t be afraid to rework your blueprint or move things around. There are also some different considerations in terms of equipment, labor and design compared to a single level grow. However, the basic principles and fundamentals of agriculture remain the same. For example, you will need access to plants on the higher levels to defoliate, feed, water and harvest. This requires reliable racking systems, ladders and additional workspace. 

Benefits of a Multi-Tier Grow: 

  • More yield allotted per square foot
  • LEDs produce less heat 
  • Single tier grows may be easier in terms of labor, but a multi-tier system is always more efficient
  • Efficiency of LED vs. HPS lights:
  • If you compare a single layer HPS room to a three level LED room, you are using the same amount of energy. This is due to the power saving efficiency of LED lights. However, with the three level facility, you are able to triple your canopy using the same amount of wattage (more yield per square foot per watt).

Considerations of a Multi-Tier Grow: 

HVAC: calculating HVAC is not always straightforward. HVAC requirements are based on biomass, not wattage.

Fertigation: Multi-tier systems require proper fertigation that can accommodate all the runs and different layers. It’s important to know if your building has space for fertigation tanks before proceeding.

Canopy Control: LED grows require shorter plants and better canopy control. Many multi-tier facilities are Sea of Green.

Racking Systems: Rack design should be planned on a room to room basis since they come in set dimensions. PIPP Horticulture is one of the leading racking companies in the industry today. Check them out here!

Set Up: The infrastructure and set up cost will be 2-3 times more than traditional HPS rooms. Some growers are hesitant to use this type of system depending on funding, budget and state regulations. Some states limit plant count. Do your research!

Strain: There are strains that are more conducive for an LED style grow, some less. This is because some strains stretch or their structure isn’t as good with the allotted space. It’s best to find genetics that are more cooperative to the height limitation within racks. However, it doesn’t just come down to strain, some are just more or less conducive. 

So, is the investment worth it? 

Yes. Those who decide to go vertical will undoubtedly spend more money upfront. The investment becomes a wash over about five years or less in an efficient facility. Also, LED facilities are simply worth more. LEDs are an infrastructural investment that makes your business highly valuable when you decide to sell it. This, in conjunction with producing double or triple the biomass for the same amount of power is well worth the initial cost.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them for Successful Harvests