Available space will always be the ultimate limiting factor in any grow. The capacity for storage, equipment, resources and plant counts are always defined by how much space you have.
A standard grow operation will use its space in the easiest way possible. This means placing plants in pots on a flat surface, parallel with the ground. Everything is rather linear: each plant sits beside the other in a straight row. “Easy,” however, rarely means “efficient.”
What is rotary gardening?
Rotary gardening moves plants from a flat 2D surface to a curved 3D space. Instead of growing under a light source, rotary methods grow the plants around it in a 360-degree fashion.
A rotary grow concentrates all the action in a core, cylindrical area. A single, powerful light can nourish an entire crop this way.
Rotary gardening is different from, but related to, vertical grows. Vertical gardening stacks plants one on top of the other, so they absorb the maximum amount of light from their sides. Rotary gardening delivers light to the plants’ canopies as in conventional (flat) gardening, but does so in a more confined space.
Growers must also physically rotate the grows every so often. This ensures the plants get equal amounts of water, light, nutrients and gravitational pull. Some rotary systems feature manual methods for turning the plants around their light source. Other systems have electronic methods for automating the turns.
Rotary’s ups and downs
Why choose rotary gardening? Yields, pure and simple. Per watt, most rotary systems produce triple the plant weight over a flat grow.
But rotary methods do have some downsides, including the cost of equipment needed for a reliable operation. For example, Omega Garden offers rotary equipment for smaller hydroponic grows (roughly 36 cannabis plants in vegetative stage) that runs about $2,000. Larger set-ups can go for as high as $25,000.
Crafty growers may be able to engineer their own rotary equipment. Just check with local regulations to be safe. Whether you choose to buy your rotary devices or build them yourself, you’ll need to set aside additional time to maintain or repair them.
Finally, because rotary grows utilize such a small space, burning the tops of your plants is a potential issue. Careful monitoring should minimize canopy burns. Be sure you’ve got the correct bulb installed with only enough watts needed for those plants.
Can rotary tech cultivate mature plants?
Theoretically, yes. With the proper supports, a rotary machine could hold mature cannabis plants. Indoor cannabis can grow over 6 feet high in some cases, so rotary equipment would need to account for those heights.
At the moment, no rotary equipment is commercially available for taller cannabis plants. Farmers have instead chosen outdoor grows in fields for tall plants like corn and sunflowers. Companies are working on affordable rotary devices for larger plants, which may become more common if regulations continue to restrict uncovered outdoor cannabis crops.
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