BBCTechnology

Brave moo world?

The world’s first offshore dairy farm opens in the Port of Rotterdam this year, with the aim of helping the city produce more of its own food sustainably. But will such farms ever be able to produce enough to feed the world’s growing urban populations?
A Dutch property company, Beladon, is launching the world’s first “floating farm” in a city port.
It has built the offshore facility right in the middle of Rotterdam’s Merwehaven harbour and will use it to farm 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows milked by robots.
Built-up urban areas may not seem like the most sensible places to run farms, but reducing the distance food travels before it reaches consumers’ plates makes environmental sense as it reduces transport pollution.
And if the global population grows to 9.8 billion by 2050 as expected, 70% are forecast to live in cities – up from 55% today.
So urban indoor farms, where produce is grown vertically on stacks of shelves under ultraviolet lights, are – literally – on the rise.
Beladon’s farm, which is on three levels and is anchored to the ocean floor, is expected to open at the end of 2018 and produce about 800 litres of milk a day.
Peter van Wingerden, an engineer at Beladon, came up with the idea in 2012 when he was in New York working on a floating housing project on the Hudson river.
While there, Hurricane Sandy struck, flooding the city streets and crippling its transport networks. Deliveries struggled to get through and within two days it was hard to find fresh produce in shops.
“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 Mr van Wingerden.
“So the idea came up to produce fresh food in a climate-adaptive way on the water.”
The concept would be resilient against hurricanes, too, he adds.
At first people thought the idea was “weird, funny or unbelievable”, he says, but they have started to come round.
“With increasing demand for healthy food, fast-growing urbanisation and climate change, we can’t rely on the food production systems of the past any more,” he says.

Source: BBC
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