The Netherlands is making a big step towards sustainable urban food production. After researchers at Utrecht University concluded that cows are probably unable to suffer from sea sickness, the plan was finally accepted by the municipal council: Rotterdam is getting its first floating farm. The project is scheduled to start construction this month with a €2.5 million budget.
What animals will live on the floating farm?
The floating farm will house 40 cows on the ground floor platform. This 1200 m2 platform or “garden” allows the cows to freely walk around. Individual stalls and a milking station will be accessible at any time. Moreover, the animals won’t be limited to their floating home. The cows will also be able to exit the farm and access a grass pasture on the nearby dock via a bridge.
How will the floating farm work?
The cows will produce about 1000 liters of milk every day, which will be locally processed into yoghurt, cream, and cheese on the bottom floor of the farm. The farm’s design includes several robots that will clean up cow dung and fill up the food stations with feed for the cows. The cows’ urine will seep through the porous platform floor to be purified into a water. This water supply will subsequently be used to grow plants and grass under LED lighting. In turn, these plants will provide other livestock with a local food source. The dung works as a fertiliser on the floating farm itself or can be sent to another nearby farm.
Why do we need a floating city farm?
The aim of the floating farm project is to bring the process of food production closer to the consumer. Currently, a vast amount of produce is imported from around the world, which isn’t the most ideal method when it comes to carbon emission. The floating farm will produce food and sustain itself independently while also providing better conditions in terms of animal welfare. As a closed-loop system, the floating farm will produce its own energy through solar panels. Additionally, the bottom factory floor will provide an education section to get citizens more involved with local food production.
When will the floating farm be finished?
With all those floating houseboats all around the Netherlands, I suppose the floating farm was only a natural next step. The floating farm should be completed by July 2017 and the grand opening is planned for August 2017. Future plans for other projects include a floating chicken farm and a floating greenhouse. If the first farm proves to be successful, property development company Beladon is aiming for an international roll out of floating farms around the world.
The floating farm might be indicative of a blurring of boundaries between the traditional urban-rural divide. Rotterdam seems like a great city to experiment with changing urban landscapes, especially considering its modern architectural style. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely heading to Rotterdam to to take a look when it’s finished! If you aren’t based in the Netherlands, you should keep an eye out on for my update (hopefully) next summer.