Airflow: The Bedrock Of A Lucrative Vertical Farming Operation

flowering cannabis under LED light

Proper Vertical Farming Airflow; Why You Need It

Several elements determine the effectiveness of your grow room. One essential but often overlooked factor is adequate vertical farming airflow, one of the many regulated environmental conditions necessary in an indoor grow operation.

The passage of air into and over each rack in a vertical farm provides unique obstacles that must be overcome. Poor airflow management in a grow room can result in crop death or poor quality buds, resulting in low yields.

Air movement controls various other environmental conditions like humidity and temperature. Proper systems help regulate these conditions in all your tiers resulting in predictable yields.

Why It’s Important To Have Good Vertical Farming Airflow In Your Cannabis Grow Room?

Indoor growing confines your plants to a restricted setting, denying them access to the breeze that cannabis plants require. The airflow strengthens the stems, allowing them to support the weight of cannabinoid-rich buds while also keeping pests at bay. There are a number of different ways that proper airflow helps plants reach their full potential.

1. Controlling Temperature And HumiditySmall robot with thermometer. understanding vertical farming airflow. vertical growing racks and mobile shelving for sale.

An effective ventilation system provides good airflow, which helps manage heat and humidity levels. Humidity builds up as a result of plant transpiration and irrigation system evaporation. 

Too much humidity raises the temperature in a grow room, making it ideal for pests and diseases to thrive. The installation of dehumidifiers is required to deal with high humidity levels. This equipment has a variety of applications that affect airflow in your warehouse, which we’ll go over later.

2. Structural Strength Of PlantsCannabis plants growing indoors using vertical farming equipment. Vertical farming airflow technology.

Just as we need to work out our muscles in the gym to make them stronger, plants need the same stress on their stems. The stress aids in developing the cannabis plants’ capacity to hold both their blooms and their own weight

3. Protection Against Pests And Mold

Mold and spider mites thrive in stagnant, damp environments. Wet topsoil attracts pests, which can cause problems for your crops. Their reproductive cycle can be slowed by using fans to dry the soil. On the other hand, a continuous breeze produces an unfavorable habitat for bugs in the first place. You may need to sterilize the contaminated soil using hydrogen peroxide.

4. Control CO2

CO2 is required for plants to produce nutrients and consequently flourish. If you keep your plants indoors, they will eventually deplete the CO2 in the space. Proper ventilation aids in bringing in the valuable material from the outside and distributing it to the plants, resulting in increased growth and yields.

For proper airflow in your grow room, you’ll need a good ventilation system. A ventilation system utilizes several components that work in conjunction with one another to allow you to grow your plants indoors.

Four Main Components Of A Cannabis Indoor Grow Room Ventilation System

 The main parts of an efficient ventilation system include:Cannabis Indoor Grow Room Ventilation System. Vertical racks and mobile carriages for commercial indoor cannabis grow rooms.

  • Grow room fans– These include intake fans and oscillating fans, which bring in air and circulate it around the grow room
  • Exhaust system– The system includes ducting, carbon filters, and fans. They eliminate stale air and excess heat while bringing in cool, fresh air.
  • CO2 burners– These are carbon dioxide generating machines.
  • Dehumidifiers and ACs– This equipment removes excess moisture hence stabilizing temperatures in a grow space.

A ventilation system also entails calculating the CFM, active and passive air intake, all of which we’ve looked into in detail in our article Ventilation for Your Grow Room: The Beginner’s Guide.

What Is Airflow In Vertical Farming And What Is Its EffectTech testing airflow in commercial cannabis grow rooms.

Airflow involves moving air from the crown to the canopy in vertical farming systems.

Indoor gardening involves the process of bringing outside settings within. Stimulating these natural conditions encourages the establishment of a vigorous plant that is disease resistant.

Growing plants in an indoor room, contrary to popular belief, does not totally prevent the possibility of diseases and pests infecting your crops. Airflow ensures that air passes through filtering devices, which help keep the facility free of germs.

Vertical airflow is also important for plant nourishment. Good airflow circulates CO2, which supplies the plants with a nutrient necessary for growth.

Plants also require nutrients from either the soil or a nutrient solution. The action of roots taking more nutrients from the grow medium is necessitated by transpiration, which is the loss of water by plants. Efficient air circulation balances humidity levels, thus allowing plants to absorb more nutrients for their growth.

Air should move in a laminar fashion within your grow room. This means air should be regulated to flow at a particular speed and direction with no crossover of air streams. This helps to keep temperatures optimal, CO2 levels high, and humidity levels low. 

Air turbulence, caused by air friction with surfaces in the space between your canopies and grow lights, is an enemy of optimum airflow. Customized vertical grow racks aid in the creation of adequate space between these surfaces, lowering the likelihood of air tumbling and affecting vertical airflow quality.

Another prevalent environmental problem in cannabis grow rooms is the development of hotspots and heatsinks. The heat released by grow lights causes hotspots on your shelving. This necessitates the use of low-heat emitting lights, such as LED lights. However, they do produce heat, which may call for the installation of fans that blow through your vertical systems.

The best way to monitor good airflow is using test points. The test points help determine the speed to set the fans.

Airflow directly impacts your indoor cannabis farm’s productivity and yield. Improving airflow in your vertical farming operation might be as simple as incorporating professional advice and useful tips.

Key Components And Tips On Ventilation Systems And How They Affect AirflowIndoor cannabis greenhouse with ventilation sand vertical grow equipment. Key Components And Tips On Ventilation Systems And How They Affect Airflow

Geoff Brown, VP of operation at Quest,  shared some key nuggets in Cannabis Business Times on what to look out for when checking airflow in your cannabis grow room:

  • The air supply and return shouldn’t be located above the canopy. The conditioned environment would be far from the crops causing poor airflow.
  • You should aim to balance the supply and return rate to avoid stratified air mass. Indoor grow room airflow needs to be uniform. Therefore, if you have a low supply, then have a high return to allow for good air mixing. Having similar levels makes it difficult to mix the air. 
  • For the supply ductwork, have the supply hung or in the ceiling and return low to draw air through your cannabis plants. Alternatively, you can supply air below tray level and draw it up through the plants into ceiling returns.
  • Fans are mistakenly used to compensate airflow in grow rooms with supply and return at the same level, compensating for a stratified environment. The air supply from your HVAC system should be enough to remove the need for fans. Geoff recommends achieving a canopy velocity of 3 to 5 feet per second without using rotations fans. 

Nevertheless, it’s nearly impossible to achieve perfect airflow. Fans should come in when a particular space in your grow room has a dip in temperature. The dip can be identified by taking a walk in your grow space and identifying problem spots

Some components key to good vertical airflow are dehumidifiers or ACs. 

DehumidificationDehumidification with ventilation in a commercial cannabis grow room. Vertical farming technology for growing marijuana.

Dehumidification is aimed at maintaining humidity levels. Some key areas to look out for include:

  1. For an end to end ventilation, don’t place the dehumidifier near a ventilation duct as it sucks out dry air, which defeats its purpose.
  2. Position your dehumidifier high up in the center of your indoor grow room. They can also do well on the ground, but better results are achieved when dehumidifiers are located on high levels.
  3. Incorporate air scrubbers which can help clean the air of spores that could affect your plants. 
  4. There’s an effect on running a fan-only feature in dehumidifying products like your AC on vertical airflow. A dehumidifier pulls moisture into its coils when running and condensing. 

For example, when an AC stops its cooling function, all other systems like the evaporator and condenser shut down, leaving the fan running over the coils. This action will have moisture being pushed back into your room. Therefore, it’s advisable to remove the fan-only feature from your dehumidifiers.

Improve Vertical Airflow In Your Indoor Vertical Farming Systems

Good airflow is essential to a successful and profitable indoor cannabis operation. As you scale your operation using vertical farming systems, it’s important to ensure efficient airflow that contributes to optimum temperatures, low humidity, and high CO2 levels that result in higher yields.

MMI Agriculture equips you with the right vertical growing equipment that sets the proper foundation for installing the ideal ventilation system.

Contact us for insights on improving your cannabis grow space. 

Ventilation For Your Grow Room: The Beginner’s Guide 

commercial grow room ventilation inspection. how to ventilate your cannabis grow room.

4 Essential Components For Setting Up The Perfect Grow Room Ventilation

Proper ventilation in the grow room is critical for optimal plant growth. Cannabis plants require adequate air circulation and fresh air to thrive. Installing an exhaust and ventilation system is vital, especially if you’ve chosen to use a vertical racking system.

The ventilation system maintains atmospheric parameters such as temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels within an indoor growing room. These factors directly impact photosynthesis, which influences how plants grow and develop.

Indoor growing involves artificially supplying the correct conditions for plant growth. This environment is created by utilizing various interdependent systems to provide the ideal habitat for your plants.

Four Benefits Of Good Air Circulation

Here are some of the reasons why you need a good grow room ventilation system.

1. Maintains Optimal CO2 Levelsoptimial amounts of C02 concept. vertical farming equipment and vertical grow racks for sale.

Green plants synthesize nutrients from carbon dioxide and water during photosynthesis. An indoor operation is a closed system that means plants will eventually run out of this important resource.

An uninterrupted supply of fresh air from outside provides plants with the much-needed C02 to keep manufacturing food for themselves. Maintaining optimal carbon dioxide levels promotes plant development and yield.

2. Humidity Management

Plants, through transpiration, release water into the atmosphere. This process can make a room with bad ventilation humid, converting your grow room into a breeding ground for pests. The moist environment raises the temperature as well. 

An effective ventilation system expels excess moisture thus maintaining an environment that encourages plants’ roots to absorb nutrient-rich water. The result will be more healthy plants

3. Temperature ControlThermometer to control and monitor temperature in a grow room for marijuana.

Grow lights are used in an indoor arrangement to mirror the effects of sunshine. At the same time, these lights emit heat, which might elevate the temperature in your environment.

Encouraging good air circulation can help mitigate the effects of rising temperatures.

4. Strengthen Plant StemsImage of a cannabis plant stem growing indoors with vertical farming technology.

In the open field, winds blow on plants, and the swaying helps build a stem that can support the plants, even when they are bearing fruits or seeds. 

A ventilation system helps build up this adaptation to help your plants hold up the buds as they mature. 

To reap these benefits, a ventilation system needs to stabilize temperature and humidity levels and supply plants with CO2 for photosynthesis

This can be achieved by the use of these four types of equipment;

  • Grow room fans
  • Exhaust system
  • CO2 burners
  • And air conditioning

Essential Components of an Excellent Ventilation System

1. Grow Room FansPowerful cannabis grow room fan. Order vertical farming racks, mobile carriages, and grow trays.

The optimal temperature for indoor gardens is 72 – 800 F. The ideal temperature for CO2 enriched grow rooms is 80 – 850 F. The equipment utilized in ventilation systems contributes to the maintenance of these ranges. A motorized fan is a common gadget used in air circulation. 

Fans are available in various sizes and types to suit various applications. Some common fans include:

  • Intake fans- They draw in fresh air from outside into the grow room.
  • Oscillating fans– They help circulate the air drawn in by the intake fans.
  • Exhaust fans- The fans act like a vacuum and suck the stale air out of the room. 
  • Inline fans– These fans allow the warm air to escape while bringing in the fresh air. 

The magnitude of your operation determines how many fans you need and the output they must provide for the ideal ventilation effects. The fan strength is determined by calculating the CFM. 

Choosing The Right Exhaust Fan For Your Commercial Indoor Grow

To determine the actual fan and exhaust system requirements, such as size and strength, you must first calculate the cubic feet per minute (CFM). 

The CFM measures the amount of air exchange required per minute for the given space size. Most exhaust fans in the US come with a CFM rating, so once you’ve done your calculations, it’s all about visiting the store to acquire your fan. 

How To Calculate The CFM Needed

1. Determine The Volume Of Your Space

The volume is calculated by multiplying your space’s Length x Width x Height. The goal is to exhaust this amount of air at least once a minute.

2. Exhaust Efficiency

There are several factors within the grow room that can affect the efficiency of your air circulation system. These include heat from lighting, interference from connected carbon filters, and ducting path. 

An efficient system has air going in a short straight line after passing through the fan. When the air has to go around a turn and through a carbon filter, you have to compensate for the loss when calculating the CFM.

Recommended CFM = (Grow space Width X Length X Height) / 5 

When there’s a carbon filter present, add 20% to the CFM 

CFM = [(Grow space Width X Length X Height) / 5] X 1.2 

3. Install The Fan Based On The Final CFM Rating

Remember, the CFM rating is given in the fans, so pick a fan with a higher rating than you calculated to account for any errors. Also, if you aren’t savvy at math, take your measurement with you. Your retailer can help compute the CFM. 

Should you go directly to buying your fans now that you’ve calculated the CFM? No, not quite. You need to determine how to set up your intake system. These are classified into two; 

  • Passive 
  • And active intake systems. 

Choosing Between Passive and Active Air Intake

Air intake refers to how you bring air into your grow room.

Passive Intake SystemPhoto of ventilation for cannabis grow rooms.

Passive intake is a common method with grow tent farmers. The system doesn’t use an intake fan; rather, openings in the tent allow the inline exhaust fan to suck the air out of the tent generating a vacuum. As a result, fresh air is drawn inside the tent from outside. 

The objective is to create negative pressure in the grow tent. The result is your room will have less air pressure than the surrounding environment promoting a passive system. 

An efficient system has an intake hole up to three times bigger than the exhaust hole for proper suction without overloading the fans. To do this in your grow room, have the intake fan, door, and windows larger than the aperture for your exhaust fan.

The issue with the method is that the tent isn’t sealed, allowing pests to get into your grow room. This method may also release unwanted odor into the surroundings. 

Active Intake

An active intake involves an additional fan for taking in more air into the grow room. This system is efficient for large scale production. 

Taking into account the CFM and intake system can help you purchase the right ventilation equipment for your operation.  

Though the fans and exhaust system are linked, there are a few more components that make up the exhaust system. 

2. Exhaust System

Another component of the grow ventilation system that you must consider is the exhaust system. 

The exhaust system helps eliminate stale air and excess heat while bringing in cool air, which promotes the health and yields of your plants. 

We’ve already discussed grow fans, which are part of the exhaust system. Let’s now look at two other components which are essential to the system: ducting and a carbon filter.

  • Ducting

Ducts in a cannabis grow room. Order vertical farming equipment, mobile carriages, and grow trays.Ducting is a tube-like structure that connects the exhaust system components. It’s also responsible for directing air in or out of the grow room. The longer the ducting with several twins and turns, the more power a fan needs to pull or push air. A shorter ducting with fewer angles increases the efficiency of your system.

  • Carbon Filters

Cannabis plants tend to release a strong aroma as they grow. While this isn’t an environmental problem, it can be an unpleasant smell that might require the installation of carbon filters to help mitigate the aroma.

Carbon filters scrub the strong marijuana aroma out of the air before releasing it into the atmosphere. The filters are also handy in eliminating other toxins like pesticides from the air.

3. CO2 Burners

A CO2 burner or generator is a carbon dioxide generating machine.  CO2 is a critical component of photosynthesis that plants rapidly deplete in an enclosed environment. The burner aids in the maintenance of your plants’ yields by ensuring proper photosynthesis at all times. 

However, while the burners emit carbon dioxide, they also emit water vapor, thus raising the temperature within the grow room. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners can help alleviate this problem and guarantee proper air circulation.

Finally, the ideal cannabis grow room ventilation system needs air conditioning.

4. Air Conditioning

Image of 2 air conditioners set to ventilate a cannabis grow room. Buy vertical grow racks and vertical farming equipment from MMI Agriculture.Air conditioners are essential for eliminating excess heat and helping to maintain an ideal temperature in your grow room.

 Various factors influence the size of an air conditioner.

  • Lighting equipment– Grow lights such as HIDs and fluorescent lights produce a lot of heat which can imbalance temperature conditions in the grow room.
  • CFM or dimensions of the space– As previously mentioned, the room’s size will define the output that the equipment must create to be effective in its function.
  • CO2 equipment– CO2 burners emit carbon dioxide and water vapor, raising the temperature in a grow room.
  • The ballast of lighting equipment– Ballasts control the voltage sent to each grow lamp. Without ballasts, lights can draw too much current at once, causing them to overheat. The ballasts also emit heat, which must be accounted for when purchasing an AC.

Manage Airflow In Your Indoor Vertical Farm

Having fans, an exhaust system and CO2 burners for your ventilation system is sufficient for a small farm but maybe not ideal for a commercial growing setup. 

Atmospheric controllers with built-in thermostats and humidistats allow you to automate motorized fans, maintaining stable atmospheric conditions.

If you are a beginner and have covered the basics of a ventilation system, contact us and let’s show you how you can incorporate it into our vertical farming systems, including Retracted Elevated Decking and Tabletop Caster Unit to keep your operation growing.