Overcoming the hurdles of switching to a vertical racking system

The rise of vertical farming has been partly spearheaded by cannabis growers, whose highly valuable crop has proved to be perfectly suitable for growing vertically. “With the advancement of LED lighting technology, vertical racking has become much more viable for indoor growers in recent years,” says Nathan Kelly, Chief Cultivation Officer at Detroit-based Sozo. “For Sozo, the decision to grow vertical was about maximizing canopy footprint in our facility.”

Some might argue that setting up a vertical cannabis farm right now would make a business future-proof, and Sozo could see that as soon as they switched to multi-tier racking systems. “When switching to a vertical racking system, operational impacts are severe but by no means are they insurmountable,” Nathan continues. “Airflow challenges to enclosed spaces are the biggest challenge, followed closely by productivity/logistical challenges in working on a 2nd tier with ladders, scaffolding, and so on.” Ultimately, overcoming these hurdles is worth it because it comes with the advantage of maximizing production with the additional level of canopy.

Click here for a video to look inside the facility.

Sozo could rely on the help of Pipp Horticulture, their supplier of vertical racks, to overcome these challenges. “Initially, Sozo chose Pipp because they came highly recommended from our lighting manufacturer Fluence. On top of that, they are a Michigan-based company, and we prefer to support local businesses when we can.” As Nathan continues to explain, Pipp has helped Sozo throughout the installation and after, regardless of the hardships caused by supply chain issues. “They are attentive and communicate clearly on scheduling deliverables. In any construction project, especially during the pandemic, adjustments are made with little notice. I appreciate Pipp’s responsiveness in tackling unforeseen challenges. I’ve sat down with Pipp engineers as well to discuss small changes that could improve functionality.”

Considering how fast vertical farming is advancing, especially with cannabis growers, newly licensed indoor growers should strongly consider investing in Pipp’s revolutionary Mobile Vertical Grow Rack Systems, as they would definitely make an operation future-proof. “If you have adequate ceiling heights and the ability to stomach increased upfront construction and material costs, two-tiered racking is a great way to drastically increase canopy footprint and revenue. While there are challenges in adjusting to new cultivation strategies and methodologies, the positives are significant enough to warrant the exercise, especially if you partner with a company like Pipp.”

For more information:
Pipp Horticulture
2966 Wilson Drive NW
Walker, Michigan 49534
P: 616-988-4044
F: 616-988-4045

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