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18 June, 2024

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Old Rockwell had a hydroponic farm at its US headquarters

25 August, 2023

Rockwell Automation has announced plans build an automated, indoor 7,300ft2 (6,780m2) hydroponic vertical farm at its US headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by the summer of 2024. It is collaborating with a US start-up Fork Farms to create the farm which will be able to produce 540,000 plants and up to 149,000lb (6,7585kg) of food annually – the equivalent of more than three acres (1.2ha) of conventional farmland.

Hydroponic farming is a technique that grows plants without using soil. Instead of planting crops in the ground, it uses containers filled with nutrient-rich water to nourish the roots of plants, thus avoiding the need for large areas of land. Rockwell’s installation, called Clock Tower Farms, will be will be located on the fourth floor of its headquarters.

More than 70 of Fork Farms’ “Flex Acres” systems will be installed in the facility. Each Flex Acre is a 9ft-high (3m) by 9ft-long (3m) by 3ft-wide (1m) growing system capable of producing more than 100lb (45kg) of leafy greens and other vegetables every month. They require less than two hours of maintenance a month, and use 98% less water and 98% less land than traditional farms.

“We’re partnering across our industry and within communities to create sustainable impact and change,” says 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.”

Each of Fork Farms’ Flex Farms has space for up to 288 plants and can grow 178kg of produce a year

Technologies developed by Fork Farms will controls the farm’s HVAC, power, dehumidification and water handling needs, allowing crops with differing requirements to grow in the same area at the same time. It will use Rockwell technologies to monitor and automatically adjust nutrient, pH and water levels.

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