Rockwell Automation has announced plans to collaborate with Fork Farms to build a highly automated, indoor hydroponic vertical farm
Fork Farms, in Green Bay, is an agriculture technology startup company. The highly automated, indoor 7300-square-foot hydroponic vertical farm will be within Rockwell Automation’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. This negates the need for large plots of land.
Once fully operational, the farm will be capable of producing 540,000 plants and as much as 149,000 pounds of food annually. This is the equivalent of more than three acres of conventional farmland. The farm will be named Clock Tower Farms in recognition of the iconic Allen‑Bradley four-sided clock atop the company’s headquarters. The first-of-its-kind facility will be housed on the fourth floor of Rockwell’s headquarters located in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point Neighborhood.
Rockwell Chairman and CEO, Blake Moret said: “We’re partnering across our industry and within communities to create sustainable impact and change. Clock Tower Farms will engage employees and the community. It will also serve as a showcase for manufacturers who want to see sustainable solutions in action. We look forward to sharing more details upon the project’s completion.”
New technology developed by Fork Farms will provide highly localized HVAC, power, dehumidification, and water handling. This 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.
The facility will boast more than 70 Fork Farms “Flex Acres.” The Flex Acre is a hydroponic system that utilizes nutrient-infused, recirculated water to nourish plant roots and optimize growth. Each Flex Acre is a nine-feet high by nine-feet long by three-feet wide growing system. It is capable of producing more than 100 pounds of leafy greens and other vegetables every month.