Could smart floating farms be the answer to creating a sustainable future?
The population is growing at an alarming rate. Between 2010 and 2050, the population will increase by 32% from 6.9bn to 9.1bn people, according to the United Nations.
Land is being consumed at speed and climate change is dominating the foreground of our planet's problems more and more.
Spanish architecture group Forward Thinking Architecture (FTA) has developed the concept of a floating farm that produces clean water, fresh produce and clean energy. FTA points out that over 80% of the world's suitable land for producing crops is already in use. Therefore, it's important that action is taken now to secure future measures.
By putting the farm over water, we will no longer use up land space, will have access to fresh produce closer to the home and will have an additional method of providing food for the growing population.
Headed up by architect, co-founder and CEO Javier F. Ponce, the design is unique in that it implements current technologies and forms a self-sufficient cycle.
The Smart Floating Farm is designed to improve the quality of human life and the environment. Through creating more accessible food sources, it will decrease food imports and will produce fresh food - all the while using clean energy.
'It [smart floating farm] is not meant to 'solve' all of humanity's hunger problems or to replace existing traditional agriculture; this is not the idea at all. The driver behind the project is to open a new initiative which can be complementary and compatible with other existing production methods in order to help reduce food risk associated problems in different areas of the globe.'
Optimally, it is to create an additional and viable secondary method for food production.
Smart floating farms main service corridors
How does it work?
The notion for this concept makes complete sense when you consider that 25 out of 35 megacities have access to water, therefore the idea of placing food production sites over water to allow the resources to be closer to where they are required is a natural one.
The process uses a combination of existing technologies to produce fresh and healthy food that is, most importantly, closer to our homes.
The floating farms can be situated on any form of sea, lake or river and is scalable and replicable.
Lower level/level zero: fish farmingAn integrated system comprises the smart farm; this involves solar power, hydroponics, fish farming and desalination techniques across three levels:
Top level - Integrates green energy production facilities i.e. a photovoltaic plant combined with skylights
Middle level - Here crops are grown using the green power generated from the top level, along with an induction of natural light
Lower level - Any waste by products from crops are used to feed fish on the farm. Waste from the fish farm is used as fertilisers for the hydroponic farm, thus creating a self-sufficient cycle.
To overcome challenges such as climate threats and wave risks, FTA has incorporated into its plan a series of wave protectors based around the farm as a protective shield.
The smart floating farm uses well-tested materials and pre-existing technologies making it a very plausible concept. There is already the plan for a floating solar farm to be installed at Godley Reservoir near Manchester, so similar proposals are already being explored. Prototypes are yet to be created, funding is required, and further experts must be consulted. It's a long way to go, but if it's for the good of humanity and planet earth; isn't it worth it?