Price of lighting equipment is cited as an important purchasing factor for two-thirds of cultivators (66%). And more growers report exploring, and applying for, utility rebates with their local energy providers. A majority of cultivators (51%) explored utility rebate incentives to subsidize the cost of LED lighting solutions in 2018, 11 percentage points more than in 2017 (40%). (LEDs were the only type of lighting for which rebate incentive questions were posed to research participants.)
However, fewer research participants said they received rebates in 2018 than did in 2017. Only 1 in 10 growers (11%) reported receiving rebates on LED purchases this year, compared to 17% in 2017. Nearly a quarter (23%) of cultivators said they have yet to submit for rebates despite having explored the opportunity (18% in 2017).
The number of growers, however, who are aware of utility rebates increased from 2017: 28% of research participants who use LEDs for propagation, vegetation or flowering did not know about utility incentives in 2018, versus 31% in 2017.
Vertical farming is another way growers can maximize crop space and yields, despite state regulations limiting square-footage, and more growers are leveraging vertical racking systems today than in previous years. In 2016, 21% of cultivators said they used vertical racks (they were not asked to specify which growth stages). In 2017 and 2018, research participants were asked to indicate during which growth stages they used vertical racking (vegetation or flowering). This year, 38% of respondents said they use vertical racks during vegetation and 18% use them in flowering (compared to 31% during vegetation and 13% in flowering in 2017).
Looking to the future, 22% of research participants who are not using vertical racking in the vegetative stage plan to do so within the next year, as do 19% of those not currently racking in the flowering stage.