You’ve likely heard experts in the agricultural industry envisioning the future of food before. Researchers are trying to grow food in space, underwater, and even in the Arctic. For example, one team is trying to grow food through floating cow farms. Yes, really. Floating agricultural farms could give us a way to fight climate change and provide urban settings with locally-grown produce. There are already real-life floating cow farms with animals that could soon be coming to a city near you.
The science and other stuff to know
The world’s population is growing at an alarming rate, and the amount of available fertile agricultural land is becoming scarce as sea levels rise and droughts become more rampant. For these reasons, floating dairy farms can prove helpful, as they can produce sustainable food to match the global demand.
Inspired by the 2012 food shortages crisis witnessed in New York following Hurricane Sandy, Peter van Wingerden and his wife proposed installing a sustainable daily farm that floats on the sea. They named it Floating Farm.
This farm is structured to follow circular design principles. It generates its own electricity from floating solar panels and provides fresh water to cows through an integrated rainwater collection and purification system.
Cows in the Floating Farm are fed with grass from local soccer fields, potato peels discarded by the french fry industry, and leftover bran from windmills. Their manure is used to create natural fertilizer. The farm also utilizes robots for automated milking, feeding, and data tracking.
In countries or cities where land is in short supply, floating farms make perfect sense, as they bring a new kind of urban smart farming that’s self-sufficient and sustainable. The idea is to give urban settings the ability to feed themselves. This feature makes them less reliant on costly transportation links, which produce harmful emissions and are increasingly vulnerable to disruption due to natural disasters and increasing international tensions.
Floating farms are also excellent ways to cut down on costs, time, and energy to deliver agricultural produce to urban areas, especially in cities that abut oceans, ports, rivers, or lakes. And in a massive storm or hurricane, these farms can easily be moved to new locations with minimal cost.
Located in Merwehaven, Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Floating Farm is aimed to encourage people to think about the possibilities of floating buildings. It has even inspired the Wingerdens to install a floating chicken farm and greenhouse.
While floating farms aren’t full-proof answers to the changes inflicted by the global climate crisis, they show how sustainable agriculture can have less impact on resources and the environment. Many cities, such as Singapore, are adopting this new farming technique.