The best benches for indoor farming are designed to make your grow operation more organized, efficient, and clean. There are a variety of grow benches available, so carefully consider your unique needs before making a selection.
The Benefits of Using a Grow Bench
Benches raise your plants off of the ground, bringing them to a comfortable tending height which helps maximize your team’s comfort and efficiency in the grow.
They also provide better storage space for your plants so that they can be more easily organized, and so they are shielded from potential pests and contaminants on the floor.
Utilizing benches can also help you manage root zone temperatures more precisely, and in some cases allows you to move your plants around in groups to better access individual plants without moving pots or disturbing trellising.
Types of Benches for Indoor Growers
There are several types of benches available for indoor agriculture. The style of bench you choose will depend on your budget, floor space, and irrigation method.
Below is a list of the most common types of benches for indoor farming:
Stationary Single-Tier Growing Benches
Traditional benches offer a way to store your plants and keep them organized. These benches are not designed to move around, so while mobility is limited, they tend to be a comparatively inexpensive option.
Single-tier rolling benches are commonly found in both greenhouses and sealed indoor farms. These feature tabletop trays that rest on rolling bars, with the feet of the fixture installed on the floor in place. Rolling benches allow you to move the tabletops from side to side without moving the entire bench frame, giving you the ability to create aisles to tend to your plants as needed while maximizing square footage.
A single-tier track bench is similar to a rolling bench, but rather than being bolted down at the feet and moving the tabletops via rolling bars, the bench is mounted on a track installed on the floor.
Multi-Tier Racks for Indoor Gardens
If you have high ceilings, you might opt for vertical racks. Both mobile racks and stationary shelves have multiple tiers with different levels of agricultural space. This setup allows you to maximize your square footage by taking advantage of vertical space in the room.
How to Choose the Best Grow Bench Top?
Grow benches come in various configurations, and it’s not always easy to pick the best grow benches or trays for your needs.
Consider how much space you have to cultivate, what sort of plants you plan to grow, the ways in which you need access to each plant, budget, and irrigation methods.
Expanded Metal Tops
Expanded metal refers to the kind of benches you see for instance in the garden center at Home Depot. They are simplistic and cost-effective in their design, and allow water to drain freely.
However, these table tops have no way of collecting water, so you will need some form of drainage system installed in the flooring below, which presents challenges with both water efficiency and cleanliness. Luckily, you have other options for trays designed more specifically for indoor farming and commercial greenhouses.
Ebb and Flow Hydroponic Trays
Another benching option for your indoor grow facility might be ebb and flow hydroponic trays, also known as “flood tables.” Ebb and flow tables are commonly used for hydroponic systems and allow water to drain out when the plants aren’t actively absorbing nutrients.
Aeroponics is a method of delivering water and nutrients to plants without traditional grow media or full submersion. When growing with aeroponics, roots are suspended and provided with a nutrient-rich mist.
This method of growing differs from hydroponics, as the plant receives a consistent supply of nutrients instead of being immersed and drained.
It also requires a special aeroponic bench system, and while some growers claim it is the most efficient irrigation method, it often comes with a hefty price tag.
Additional Considerations for Commercial Grow Operations
Depending on your available space, budget, and plant choice, you may want to consider vertical racking systems. Drying racks and vertical grow rack systems can help streamline your indoor farming operation. If you’re a commercial grower interested in learning more about this topic, consider reading our article, “How to choose the right grow room vertical farming racks.”