Innovation That Matters

Autonomous farm | Photo source Ronan on Unsplash

Autonomous farm produces food with robot workers

Agriculture & Energy

A US startup wants to sell vegetables grown by robots in an indoor farm.

US startup Iron Ox has opened a hydroponic production facility – attached to its San Carlos-based offices – which will grow produce at around 26,000 heads per year, the same amount that a much larger outdoor farm produces. Iron Ox’s farm uses 90 percent less water than traditional farming does. It can also can grow 30 times as much crop per acre of land.

Iron Ox envisions a future farm that is completely autonomous with no human workers. Their current farm has 15 human workers who seed and process the crops, and robots that tend the rows of produce. The robotic arms and movers pluck plants from the hydroponic trays and move them into new trays as they grow larger. To make sure all the machines in the farm work together seamlessly, Iron Ox developed ‘The Brain’. It is software that ensures the machines collaborate and monitors the location of robots, nitrogen levels, temperature and more.

At the moment, the food produced at the farm is not for sale. Instead it is being delivered to local food banks and the company’s salad bar. However, the company is discussing potential business with local restaurants and grocers. Furthermore, the farms will make it possible to grow produce near urban areas without paying people city-level salaries. Therefore, Iron Ox believes it will encourage stores to choose fresh vegetables over produce that has been transported thousands of miles to be sold.

Here at Springwise, we have featured many farming innovations such as an indoor farm that can grow produce in outer space. Another example is a converted shipping container that offers communities a tech-powered farm.




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