There’s a classic Simpsons bit in ‘Treehouse of Horrors VI’ when Homer steps into another galaxy where he learns the theoretical ‘third dimension’ is real. Seeing the world in all 3 directions predictably befuddles him, and hilarity ensues.
However, even in this strange 3-D realm Homer would feel right at home had he happened upon among today’s great monuments to a 2-D world: the mega-indoor cultivation facility. In here, it appears that the thought of exploiting a complete amount of space to drive down production costs is no match for your my-square-footage-is-bigger objective of sprawling, resource-hungry cannabis cathedrals.
Monuments to ego aside, cannabis cultivation facility design is really a cold and heartless numbers game. Regardless how small or big your operation, those that can produce more at a discount will win. It’s time we re-imagine how indoor cultivation can remain cost-competitive; maybe it’s time for you to Mature and consider the merits of vertical cultivation.
Growing plants vertically supplies a solution with potentially several fundamental advantages for cultivators. For instance, because of the same footprint it offers increased plant yields and revenue generation, while decreasing energy/water consumption by several factors, over traditional horizontal cultivation. [Vertical cultivation often uses gravity-fed hydroponic systems but could be modified for soil.]
To get clear, the term ‘vertical cultivation’ in this context does not always mean stacking horizontal grow trays on top of each other, with the plant canopy growing towards (perpendicular) the lights. Instead, imagine having a horizontal grow and flipping it, as well as its light source, 90 degrees in order that the plants grow upward and parallel towards the light.
The concept of vertical cultivation might not be a simple one to visualize, so a basic analogy would be the distinction between a magazine on the table vs. one in a bookshelf. Should you consider the book’s cover its ‘canopy’ then it appears like horizontal growing when lying flat, but vertical cultivation when standing up. Although it may seem just like a small difference in orientation, the effect of cultivating in three dimensions on overall cost efficiency is profound.
Let’s see exactly what the numbers appear to be should you exploit the whole volume of space with vertical cultivation, making use of the scenario above as our baseline comparison.
First, we consider the existing grow (i.e. the ‘book’ lying down) and stand it up. Just by doing that one could now grow canopies for both sides (think about the book’s front and back covers). Instantly, we’ve doubled our original capacity and we’re just starting out!
Next, we face LED lights (of comparable PAR intensity as HPS) parallel towards the canopy and then carry out the same on the opposite side, just as if two flashlights were pointed at the front and back covers of a book on a shelf. Why LED over HPS? Primarily because LED allows the canopy to grow even closer to the light without damaging the plants, and does so for less operating costs.
Now, assume three feet spacing in one light for the other, with the canopies in between. Then, take the entire configuration and repeat it 4 times to fill up the room. Taken at face value, the development and efficiency advantages of vertical cultivation over horizontal growing are clear, even though LED produces less yield/light. The fantastic news is, the thought continues to be put gcpsfm practice as well as the real-world results hew closely to the hypothetical situation above.
In fairness, adopting LED technology currently requires substantially more capital investment than HPS. But, on balance, the extra upfront costs of LED are far outweighed over time by remarkable ability to get down operating costs while increasing production efficiency.