Floating Farms

By pjain      Published Oct. 12, 2019, 7:06 p.m. in blog Geo-Politics   

Floating Farms Uses, Economics, Keys and Trends

ISSUE: High Capital costs

The start-up costs of floating farms are simply too high for current proposed designs to work without help (read subsidies) from the government.

Offshore exempt workers in same time-zones as clients

Use as Offices off high cost coastal cities

  • One floating farm design has interconnected repeating units each size of 6 football fields or 200 meters wide and 350 meters long. So each level would at 10.76 sq ft/sq m be about 750k sq ft and that is why 3 levels would be about 2.2 m sq ft.

But look at the cost of construction and rents prevalent in cities (note a sq mt is 10.76 sq ft).

  • NOTE: Average per square metre (sq. m.) prices in US$ of 120-sq. m. apartments located in the centre of the most important city of each country, either the: Administrative capital; and/or Financial capital; and/or The centre of the rental market. Properties are in excellent condition, with good facilities, and have been refurbished or redecorated within the last five years. Newly-built and pre-sale property prices are not included. Buyers should expect the prices of new properties to be higher. SRC: Global Property Guide
City Rent $/sq ft Construction $/sq ft Apt
Singapore $1330



High class ocean resorts

You could presumably get the economics to work on the floating farm vision on calm water next to luxury housing or lodging, enabling farm-to-fork meals in high end kitchens.

Issue: Limited volume

I remain skeptical that the approach could provide mass nutrition to the world’s mega-cities.

Why: Food security

Coastal Mega-cities - Land is at a premium

"Seventy percent of the face of the Earth is water, while the world population is growing and arable land is limited so we have to look in other ways to produce fresh food next to the citizens, to reduce transport .. It's a logical step to produce fresh food on the water. Most big cities are situated in [river] deltas, and it's easy to use the deltas for food production." - Beladon

And 25 out of the 35 megacities that contain more than 10 million people happen to be close to water. This includes New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Jakarta, Shanghai, Karachi, and Shenzhen.

Design and Architecture, Floating Farm Tech

Offshore technology - drilling, wind and ocean energy

  • Offshore drilling platforms and offshore wind farms already doing mega projects

Energy - Need to capture Wind, Ocean and Solar Energy in Floating farms

Wind turbines and solar panels on the roof take advantage of the exposure that comes from being on the ocean while wave energy is captured below.

ISSUE: Water recycling and retention

Economics What crops?

Assuming that an ocean floating farm would be producing high-value produce and protein, such as oysters and microgreens, Quinn said, the farm would only make about $US100,000 per year in revenue from the sale of these commodities — which typically run about $US4.50 per pound. -- James Quinn, professor of environmental science and policy at the University of California, Davis

Animal meat

Poultry and dairy highest profit? - what about wastes?

The floating farm concept could be adopted as needed by port cities, with farms producing poultry and fruit as well as dairy products.

Waste Biomass consumption

Multiple Stories for Efficiency

High Seas Farms

Issue: Protection from high Waves?

Forward Thinking Architecture, Barcelona - Conceptual "fantasy" design

Forward Thinking Architecture’s design requires 2.2 million square feet with a hydroponic garden, a slaughter house, fish farm, desalination plant, and a packaging facility. Claims that just one smart farm facility would produce about 8 tons of vegetables and 1.7 tons of fish every year; and that each farm would pay for itself within 10 years.

  • Design is with interconnected repeating units each size of 6 football fields or 200 meters wide and 350 meters long. So each level would at 10.76 sq ft/sq m be about 750k sq ft and that is why 3 levels would be about 2.2 m sq ft.

  • A roof, with three levels are designed with the different levels would be broken up by function, each of which would feed into and help to power the other.

  • TOP LEVEL ROOF for ENERGY comes mainly from the roof level: The farm would run entirely off of renewable energy. The top level is installed with photovoltaic panels to harvest sunlight for electricity and it has rainwater collectors for irrigation purposes.

  • Wind turbines at highest level on the roof take advantage of the exposure that comes from being on the ocean
  • The roof would be covered in skylights and photovoltaic solar cells that would convert sunlight into energy.
  • At lowest levels, wave energy is captured below.

  • Second level: Hydroponic Green house The second level serves as a greenhouse for the vegetables, which are grown without soil under the hydroponic system; The design allows natural sunlight to trickle down to the next level that would house a stacked hydroponic organic crop farm, which doesn’t require land, pesticides, or a ton of space. The growing cycle can be extended to nearly 24 hours using lamps using energy generate in day or wind power.

  • Third or Bottom Level Fish Farm. The third ground level is used as a fish farm OPEN GRID floating on the open sea - ie. water and food comes from ocean and enclosed nets, as well as a fish egg hatchery, a slaughterhouse and a storage room for the fish. Water waste from the crop farm would then mosey down into the fish farm on the bottom level. And the resulting waste from the fish would be recycled back up to fertilize the plants. Thus, the farm would be self-sustaining in many different ways.

    Question: If ocean water is freely mixed in - not retained, the waste water rich in nutrients would be mostly lost? Q: What about plankton and other food supplies, eg kelp, etc for the fish - can an even lower level or side farms be utilized to feed the fish?

  • Inner area factories. The floating barge would also house a desalination plant, a slaughter house, a packaging facility; as well as wind turbines and machines that convert waves from the water into energy for extra power.

  • At lowest levels, wave energy is captured below.

  • DEEP ANCHORED or Free floating - They could be anchored to the sea beds of oceans, lakes, and rivers, and could be moved around by ship as needed.

The company wants to cater to large cities, the parts of the world that often have the least access to sustainable food. Each farm would produce 1.7 tons of fish and 8 tons of vegetables every year, and it would only take 10 years for the facility to pay for itself.

Case Studies and Examples

Europe: Rotterdam dairy farm - robot milking, grow grass/clover locally, dairy machinery

The floating farm will produce milk and yogurt near Rotterdam's center, expected to open at the end of 2018 and produce about 800 litres of milk a day, is taking advantage of unused space while helping curb the expense and pollution associated with transporting food products from distant farms to local grocery stores. The first of up to 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows, which are known for long lives and robust health, will come on board in November, van Wingerden said. By December, the farm — built on a floating concrete platform near the mouth of the New Meuse River — should be producing more than 200 gallons of milk and yogurt a day.

40 cows is enough for the venture to break even. But she says it is "easily scalable", with larger operations promising "obvious efficiencies".

- Beladon/Floating Farm,Rotterdam

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. The concept would be resilient against hurricanes

Later in 2012, his team began working on the design and talking to the Port Authority in Rotterdam. Despite its initial hesitations about the potential noise and smell, the port gave Beladon a space to build a prototype. Since then the farm has taken shape, and earlier this summer its floating platform was moved by barge from Zaandam in the north of Holland, to Rotterdam.

  • WASTE PROCESSING - The animals' manure will be collected by poop-scooping robots and sold as fertilizer.

    A professor said the farm might pollute the water on which it floats and that the transportation needed for supplying feed to the city-based cows could displace some of the environmental benefits of making fresh dairy products in the city.

  • ROOF TOP : Solar energy The project will even generate some of its own energy - hydrogen produced through electrolysis powered by solar panels.

  • TOP LEVEL : GREENHOUSES FEED - One level up, greenhouses will grow grass, clover and other crops that will used to feed the cows. The cattle, which will also feed on used grain from local breweries, will be able to descend a gangway to graze on nearby land. But dairy experts working on the project think the cows will prefer the shelter of the floating habitat and spend most of their time on the waves. That might include grains discarded by local breweries, leftovers from restaurants and cafes, by-products from local wheat mills, and even grass clippings, all collected and delivered in electric trucks provided by local "green waste" firm GroenCollect. "We will grow duckweed as an animal feed, too," says Ms van Wingerden. "It is high in protein, fast-growing and can be nurtured with cow urine. We will have an installation of four or five vertical platforms growing the plant under special LED lights."

  • MIDDLE LEVEL: The cows will be kept on the farm's second level, a garden-like enclosure where the animals will be milked by robots.

  • NO BOTTOM LEVEL? - AUTOMATION - The farm's bottom level will house the machinery needed to process and package the milk and yogurt.

  • ANCHOR The farm will be anchored to the bottom of the harbor and should be stable even in bad weather

  • Minke van Wingerden, a partner in the Rotterdam-based property development firm Beladon and the leader of the project.

  • World's first floating dairy farm could be wave of the future

  • The world's first floating farm making waves in Rotterdam - BBC News
  • DairyGlobal - Cows enter world’s first floating farm



  • Forward Thinking Architecture, Barcelona, CEO Javier Ponce

  • Beladon/Floating Farm,Rotterdam


  • James Quinn, professor of environmental science and policy at the University of California, Davis
  • He has estimated that the Forward Thinking Architecture, Barcelona floating farm may cost more than they expect.

  • Weslynne Ashton, a professor of environmental management and sustainability at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

  • Dr Fenton Beed, a team leader at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, thinks urban farms are useful because they tend to use less water, fertiliser and pesticide than conventional production systems. But he also acknowledges that space limitations may prevent enough food being produced to supply the world's burgeoning urban populations. "Constraints to producing food in controlled environments include costs for initial investment, LED lighting and continuous energy supplies, .. That means that unless policies incentivise the engagement of smaller producers, this technology will be reserved for income-rich private and public entities." says Dr Beed.


=== XFR: Future Food Crisis and Affordability


With worldwide populations expected to soar to 9.6 billion by 2050, food production will have to increase by 70% worldwide and by 100% in developing countries to keep up.

Problem of Lack of Arable land

Freshwater supply hurting

You need land and water to harvest food — and unfortunately, both of these resources are heavily stressed.

Issue: Rapidly rising populations often high risk of food insecurity


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