This year opens the first floating farm in the world in Rotterdam, with the intention to help the city to produce its food in a sustainable way.
Can these curious farms ever produce enough to feed the ever-growing urban population?
Beladon, a Dutch real estate company, launches the world's first floating farm in an urban port.
The facilities, which are at the front of it Port of Merwehaven in Rotterdam, will house some 40 cows Maas-Rijn-Issel that will be milked.
To begin with, the farm has 40 cows.
At first sight, urban areas may not be the most logical places for a farm, but reducing the distance that food travels to reach consumers is very logical from an environmental point of view. reduces pollution generated by transport.
And if the world's population will reach 9,800 million by 2050, as estimated, 70% will live in cities (today 55%).
For this reason, urban farms in indoor spaces, where vegetables are grown on shelves arranged vertically, illuminated by ultraviolet lights, are increasing.
The three-storey Beladon farm, which is anchored at the bottom of the ocean, is planned to start working end of 2018 and produce 800 liters of milk per day.
Peter van Wingerden, an engineer at the company, came up with the idea in 2012 when he worked on a project in New York to build a houseboat on the Hudson River.
When I was there, the city was hit by Hurricane Sandy. The streets were flooded and the transport network was paralyzed.
The deliveries of goods started to get complicated and after a few days it was almost impossible to find fresh food in the stores.
"When I saw the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, I realized that it was necessary to produce food as close to the consumer as possible," says Van Wingerden.
"There was the idea to produce fresh food (to adapt to climate change) in the water."
This concept is also resistant to hurricaneshe adds.
This farm has the capacity to house 40 cows, but its makers say that the model can easily be replicated on a larger scale.
At first people thought that the idea was "weird, funny or unbelievable", says the engineer, but now they have come to believe.
"With the growing demand for healthy food, rapid urbanization and climate change, we can not rely solely on the food production systems of the past."
In 2012 his team started the design and a conversation with the port authorities in Rotterdam.
Despite initial doubts about the noise and potential odor of a similar establishment, the Beladon port granted one space to make a prototype.
Since then the farm started to take shape and at the beginning of the summer the floating platform was moved from the north of the Netherlands to Rotterdam.
Minke van Wingerden, Peter & # 39; s wife and business partner, says that the farm will start with 40 cows, sufficient to prevent losses.
But he says it's bad easy to expand the project.
The devastation caused in the US. Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the difficulty this brought in to get fresh food, Van Wingerden thought that a solution had to be found to bring fresh products to the consumer.
Recycling and own energy
Another goal that they have proposed is reuse and Recycle everything possible.
"At least 80% of what our cows will eat are discarded products from the Rotterdam food industry," explains Albert Bersen, director general of the farm.
The farm will also generate part of its energy solar panels
When it is fully operational, the establishment will produce pasteurized milk and yogurt to sell it to Rotterdam. It will also process and sell cow dung.
Fenton Beed, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, believes that urban farms are useful because they have a tendency to use less water, fertilizers and pesticides than conventional production systems.
But he is also aware that the limitations of space can only be a limit to the amount of food they can produce.
"Restrictions on food production in controlled environments include costs for initial investment, LED lighting and continuous energy supply," says Beed.
"This means that unless policies are developed to encourage small producers, these technologies will only be available to wealthy private or public entities."
However, companies such as Plenty, in San Francisco, United States or Spread, in Japan, are attracting investors to develop nurseries in indoor areas to grow vegetables.
Peter and Minke van Wingerden are now looking for opportunities build more floating farms in the Netherlands and also in Asia.
"We hope to create many more floating farms, but we also like the idea that others copy or contribute ideas to achieve the same goal," says Peter van Wingerden.
"The production of healthy and sufficient food is the key to a better, cleaner and safer world."