In the port of Rotterdam, 32 dairy cows have found a new home in the world’s first floating farm.
The micro farm is within the harbour of the M4H development zone in Rotterdam, an area which aims to stimulate and facilitate innovative and experimental activities. The three-storey farm comes equipped with spacious cubicles, milking robots, a stable cleaning robot and an automatic feeding belt. For grazing, an adjacent green meadow is available.
The innovative Floating Farm project follows the idea of Urban Farming – that is primary food production in urban areas. Local food production and consumption can significantly reduce transport and thus emissions of CO2. In addition, Urban Farming counteracts the alienation of producers and consumers, as city dwellers are brought back into contact with the origin and preparation of their daily food.
The project was designed by Rotterdam Architects, Goldsmith and is a compact, three-storey agricultural building, which stands on concrete floating pontoons. The basement beneath the water houses all the technical functions, such as the cultivation of fruit as an ingredient for yoghurts, rain and wastewater recycling.
The floor above houses milk and yoghurt processing, a feeding system, manure handling and retail space. The covered cowshed on the upper floor is supported by a manure cleaning robot and a milking robot as well as various elements for animal welfare. The two galleries around the Kuhgarten (cow garden) – linked by two steel bridges – connect different rooms to a nature trail for visitors.
The structure of the floating farm was designed as a galvanized steel skeleton. With all the secondary steelwork also being galvanized; the circulating galleries on the intermediate and upper floors, the grids of the galleries, stables, the roof structure of the Kuhgarten and the access bridges. Hot dip galvanized steel has proven itself both in agriculture and in hydraulic engineering. For this reason, durable and robust hot dip galvanizing represents an economic and sustainable corrosion protection solution for the Floating Farm.
The floating farm has been designed to be self-sufficient. Solar cells generate its electricity, rainwater is recycled, various residual products of the city such as grass from sports or golf courses serve as food for the cows. The processing of residual products into edible food is a global target for sustainable food production. The dairy products will be sold on the floating farm and will soon be available in the stores of the discounter Lidl in the Rotterdam region.
In the search for sustainable food systems in times of climate change, the development of urban agriculture may be a viable solution for some cities. This allows healthy, fresh food to be produced close to the consumer.
Image: Ruben Dario Kleimeer