Rockwell Automation has announced plans to collaborate with Fork Farms, a Green Bay-based agriculture technology startup company, to build a highly automated, indoor 7,300-square-foot hydroponic vertical farm within Rockwell’s Milwaukee headquarters by summer of 2024.
Hydroponic farming is a technique used to grow plants without soil. Instead of planting crops in the ground, hydroponic farmers use containers filled with nutrient-rich water without the need for large plots of land.
Once fully operational, Clock Tower Farms, named in recognition of the iconic Allen‑Bradley four-sided clock atop the company’s headquarters, will be capable of producing 540,000 plants and as much as 149,000 pounds of food annually – the equivalent of more than 3 acres of conventional farmland. The first-of-its-kind facility will be housed on the 4th floor of Rockwell’s Milwaukee headquarters.
“We’re partnering across our industry and within communities to create sustainable impact and change,” said Rockwell chairman and CEO Blake Moret. “Clock Tower Farms will engage employees and the community while serving as a showcase for manufacturers spanning diverse industries who want to see sustainable solutions in action. We look forward to sharing more details next summer upon the project’s completion.”
New technology developed by Fork Farms will provide highly-localised HVAC, power, dehumidification and water handling, which enables crops with varying environmental needs to grow properly in the same growing area at the same time. Fork Farms will use Rockwell technologies to monitor and automatically adjust nutrient, pH, and water levels based on the crops being grown.
More than 70 Fork Farms ‘Flex Acres’ will be installed in the facility. The Flex Acre is a hydroponic system that utilizes nutrient-infused, recirculated water to nourish plant roots and optimise growth. Each Flex Acre is a 9-feet high by 9-feet long by 3-feet wide growing system capable of producing 100+ pounds of leafy greens and other vegetables every month.