A plant’s physiology, its form and function, is profoundly impacted by its environment and arrangement. When it comes to indoor farming, what solutions and systems work best for certain crops? Which stack formats are more productive? What are the pros and cons of vertical and horizontal stacks?
Find the answers to these and many other questions during Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas, May 22-24, 2019. As part of the event’s comprehensive Crop Selection educational track (one of five!), AmHydro Vice President Joe Swartz will lead the insightful session, “Impact on Physiology of the Plant In Vertical vs Horizontal Stacks.”
‘What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You’
“When it comes to system design, what you don’t know can hurt you,” Joe explains. “How systems are designed, arranged, and how your space is managed, will directly impact how crops grow. It’s all about the intersection of horticulture and space management.”
Joe will call upon his extensive experience and industry insights for the presentation. A master hydroponic farmer with more than 55,000 hours of hands-on greenhouse production time, Joe has been a year-round grower for 35 years and a consultant to the hydroponics industry for 20-plus years. With specialties ranging from professional grower training and system design to crop production methods and food safety protocol, Joe is a member of the top management team at AmHydro. Headquartered in Arcata, CA, AmHydro has been designing and building innovative hydroponic systems for more than 30 years ranging in size from 5-plus feet (for hobbyists and educators) to multiple acres for commercial suppliers of Whole Foods and Costco.
Two Magic Words
“There are two magic words to consider — phototropism and gravitropism,” Joe adds. “Whether you’re growing indoors, outside or outer space for that matter, these two fundamental plant processes cannot be changed or ignored. They must be top of mind when designing any grow space.”
In simplest terms, phototropism is a plant’s response to light, while gravitropism is its response to gravity. To maximize available light, plant stems orient toward the direction of illumination and away from gravity, while roots grow away from light and toward gravity. But when you drill down — to plant organs and the cellular level — it’s not that simple and you start to see competition between gravity and light. Just a few of the MANY factors to be mindful of in space design.
Vertical vs Horizontal
“Vertical stacks violate the law of gravitropism. Sometimes they’re designed for the ‘wow factor’ and people often assume they are more productive than horizontal stacks. While it seems counter-intuitive, the opposite is actually true,” Joe adds, detailing a 2.5-year consulting project he worked on that showed how the space utilized by horizontal stacks actually yielded a higher plant volume than vertical ones.
“As we move forward as an industry – striving to produce higher quality crops and stay competitive in the marketplace — how we monitor, manipulate and control the growing environment will become increasingly important.”