There’s a classic Simpsons bit in ‘Treehouse of Horrors VI’ when Homer steps into an alternate world where he finds out that this theoretical ‘third dimension’ is genuine. Seeing the world in all 3 directions predictably befuddles him, and hilarity ensues.
However, even during this strange 3-D realm Homer would feel right in your own home had he happened upon among today’s great monuments to some 2-D world: the mega-indoor cultivation facility. In here, it would appear that the thought of exploiting a complete amount of space to operate down production costs is no match for the my-square-footage-is-bigger objective of sprawling, resource-hungry cannabis cathedrals.
Monuments to ego aside, cannabis cultivation equipment is actually a cold and heartless numbers game. No matter how small or big your operation, the ones 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. As an example, due to the same footprint it offers increased plant yields and revenue generation, while decreasing energy/water consumption by a few factors, over traditional horizontal cultivation. [Vertical cultivation often uses gravity-fed hydroponic systems but can be modified for soil.]
To become clear, the term ‘vertical cultivation’ in this particular context does not necessarily mean stacking horizontal grow trays on the top of the other person, with the plant canopy growing towards (perpendicular) the lights. Instead, imagine getting a horizontal grow and flipping it, as well as its source of light, 90 degrees so the plants grow upward and parallel to the light.
The idea of vertical cultivation will not be a fairly easy anyone to visualize, so a simple analogy is the difference 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 look such as 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 level of space with vertical cultivation, using the scenario above as our baseline comparison.
First, we go ahead and take existing grow (i.e. the ‘book’ laying) and stand it up. Just by doing that you can now grow canopies on sides (think of 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 similar PAR intensity as HPS) parallel towards the canopy and then carry out the same on the other part, as if two flashlights were pointed in front and back covers of the book on a shelf. Why LED over HPS? Primarily because LED allows the canopy to develop nearer to the light with no damage to the plants, and does so for less operating costs.
Now, assume three feet spacing in one light to the other, with the canopies in between. Then, go ahead and take entire configuration and repeat it 4x to fill the room. Taken at face value, the production and efficiency features of vertical cultivation over horizontal growing are clear, even when LED produces less yield/light. The fantastic news is, the idea 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, any additional upfront costs of LED are far outweighed as time passes by remarkable ability to drive down operating costs while increasing production efficiency.