The right racking solution can increase the efficiency of your grow room. Not only will growing in multiple tiers allow you to increase the number of plants you can grow at one time, but growing on mobile racks will also help you streamline your operation and keep your space clean.
Using Mobile Racks to Increase Your Yields
Growing on mobile vertical grow racks can help increase your yield capacity by allowing you to maximize your square footage. Mobile racks allow you to stack your plants in vertical tiers, and they can be easily moved to create aisleways as needed. This provides a more efficient way to use your grow space.
Growing on racks also helps you keep plants off the ground and makes servicing them more hygienic and convenient. It is important to note, however, that especially because vertical racking allows you to condense more plants into a single space, you need to perform routine deep cleaning and identify problems, like powdery mildew and mold.
It is important to note, however, that there are single-tier grow benching solutions that are excellent options for larger plants or for cultivators who don’t want to grow vertically. While multi-tier racks help maximize your vertical space, you will still need to account for increased HVAC and lighting costs.
Servicing Plants in a Vertical Farms
Vertical farms are becoming a popular way to grow cannabis, micro greens, herbs, and other vegetables and fruits on a commercial scale. But while multiple tiers of canopy maximize the grow space, you may be wondering how efficiently staff can service plants on higher levels. Even if irrigation is automated, they will still need to access plants for culling, harvesting, disease diagnosis, and other for other general plant maintenance.
Mobile grow racks allow you to push racks from side to side with an easy-to-use crank to form aisles for accessing plants. Depending on how high your tiers are and how many tiers you use, personnel can reach plants on upper levels using traditional step ladders, rolling ladders, or lifts.
3 or 4-step ladders can be useful for reaching top tiers. If your rack is particularly tall, you will need a larger ladder to reach the top tiers. Ladders, while relatively inexpensive, require personnel to adjust their position every few feet, which can be cumbersome, time consuming, and possibly a safety risk. Power lifts are a highly efficient method of transporting staff up and down aisleways, allowing them to raise and lower themselves quickly and safely. However, these are far more expensive than ladders. Many vertical growers opt for a rolling ladder instead, which is less expensive than a mechanical lift, and more efficient and safer than a large step ladder.
How Grow Racks Affect HVAC
Mobile grow racks can have a significant effect on an indoor farm’s HVAC needs. Coordinate closely with your vendors to ensure that your design takes the appropriate airflow, cooling, and dehumidification needs into account.
Cooling and Dehumidification Loads
While you can fit more plants into a single grow space with mobile vertical racks, you will also need to accommodate the plants’ needs. Each layer of canopy will require its own lights. While LEDs radiate significantly less heat than alternative fixtures like HIDs, you should still account for any heat they will add to the space. This additional heat will need to be removed through your HVAC system and will impact your cooling tonnage.
Similarly, growing more plants will require additional irrigation. First, be sure to work with a vendor who can provide an irrigation system that will function properly in a vertical application. But also collaborate with your HVAC designer to account for the water volumes you except to use. Remember that water added to the grow will either be removed as runoff or will enter the atmosphere as water vapor. More water means higher humidity, which your HVAC system will need to manage.
Having multiple levels of canopy makes it harder to ventilate the space. To ensure a homogenous environment, your mechanical engineer will need to account for this. This is more difficult than simply adding a few more fans to the space, since adding tiers of plants can easily create pockets of trapped air and moisture. This is due to the fact that multiple levels of the canopy will create more obstacles for airflow, making it harder to circulate the air and keep the plants cool and dry.
Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modeling is a technique some engineers offer to more accurately predict how their designs will affect the environment given various inputs including room dimensions, lighting placement, and canopy height. They can use this tool to simulate temperature, humidity, C02, and airflow conditions using a 3D model. CFD modeling is an excellent option for growers seeking hyper-optimized environments.
Choosing the Right Mobile Grow Rack
It is important to consider the specific needs of your grow room in order to select the most appropriate system. There are a variety of mobile racking systems available on the market, so research and compare proposals to find the one that best suits you.
If you’re looking for a mobile racking system for your grow room, or if you’re just needing a little more information, contact us today.