When you first hear the words "offshore" in a discussion about sustainability, you might think of offshore wind farms. And while those are absolutely important for energy generation, they're not the only way to utilize our oceans to make eco-friendly choices. What else could we do?
Well, the world's very first offshore dairy farm is set to open at the end of 2018. This dairy farm will be in the Port of Rotterdam, and it is being launched by Beladon, a Dutch property company.
This farm-on-water is the first of its kind in a city port. While initially this might seem like a gag or pop-up project, the aim is to make it easier for the city to produce its own food.
To begin, the floating farm will have about 40 cows on board. These cows will be milked by robots. The really impressive part? These cows are expected to produce around 800 liters of milk. Per day.
Robots will also gather manure for the floating farm. This manure will be used either as fertilizer, or as onsite energy generation. Excess will go to local farms.
The milk and yogurt made on the farm will be sold in the local area.
Logistically, the farm will be set in the middle of the port. It will also be anchored to the ocean floor. The entire thing will be three levels.
"Seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy I was struck by the need for food to be produced as near as possible to consumers," says Peter van Wingerden, an engineer at Beladon. As he tells the BBC, the idea for a floating farm came to him when Hurricane Sandy struck New York City in 2012. He was there by coincidence, working on a floating housing project designed for the Hudson.
Because of flooding and harsh weather conditions, it was difficult, if not impossible, for food deliveries to operate as needed in the city. "So the idea came up to produce fresh food in a climate-adaptive way on the water," he continues.
The cows will have access to pasture. Klaas van der Molen, the designer, tells The Guardian, "With 40 cows at 800kg each on a moving body, it has to be more stable and symmetrical. They could all stand on one side. The cow specialist thinks they will spend most time on the floating farm [not in the field], as it’s a cosy area where they have their food, their sheds are there and it has a softened floor.”
The farm will also create some of its own power via solar panels.