A Dutch collaboration is pushing the boat out with an idea of how to feed growing city populations despite decreasing amounts of space in which to produce food. The Floating Farm will produce various kinds of milk and yogurt from its location docked in the port of Rotterdam.

This isn't the first time waterborne farms have been mooted as a means of food production. Last year, Forward Thinking Architecture proposed its triple-decker Smart Floating Farms that would provide 2.2 million sq ft (204,400 sq m) of space for rearing fish and growing crops, while the Swale mobile floating food forest is scheduled to tour New York piers from this month.

The Floating Farm, though, has a focus on dairy. The project is a partnership between three companies. Courage is the innovation institute of the Dutch Agriculture and Dairy sector, Uit Je Eigen Stad runs urban farms in cities across the Netherlands and Beladon is an authority on floating structures.

The farm will measure 40 x 32 m (131 x 105 ft) and the plan is for it to produce dairy goods on a daily basis. There will be enough space for 40 cows, producing in the region of 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) of milk every day. Floating Farm says it would be very possible to scale the design up so as to accommodate 200 cows with a daily milk output of 5,000 kg (11,000 lb).

The structure will contain an "animal-friendly garden-like environment," with artificial grass upon which the cows can roam. Grass for feeding the cattle will be grown in short cycles on special beds using LED lights.

Urine produced by the cows will drain through the floor and into an air-tight storage facility. By keeping it contained here, ammonia emissions will be limited and it will be able to be distributed for use as fertilizer for city farms.

Manure, on the other hand, will be collected and stored separately. A biodigester will be employed to turn the manure into biogas and fertilizers, which in turn can be used to help grow the grass used to feed the cows. Rainwater too will be collected and filtered for the cows to drink.

All of this will be powered by solar panels and turbines. The use of renewable energy in this way and the circular nature of the farming means that the farm will be almost entirely self-sufficient. Its city location, meanwhile, means that the distances for transporting produce are minimized, and so too resulting emissions.

In addition to food production operations, the Floating Farm will host a high-tech living lab, which will be used for researching food production, and waste and water treatment processes. There will also be an education program, with guided tours for visitors and children to teach them about healthy food production and the processes being used by the farm itself.

Construction of the first Floating Farm is scheduled to begin this month and is expected to be completed in December, ahead of a projected January 2017 opening.

Source: Floating Farm

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