Construction has begun on a floating farm that will be moored in a harbour in Rotterdam.
Three floating platforms will support 40 cows that will live partially on the 1,200 sq m farm. They will produce around 800 litres of milk per day, which will be sold locally, and will be able to cross to terra firma.
The plan was initiated by property developer Beladon, which specialises in floating structures. Peter van Wingerden, chief executive of Beladon, and the project initiator, said: "After all the preparations, this is an unprecedented milestone for everyone who has worked to get this project up and running."
According to Beladon, the floating space is better for the cows than regular stables on land, as its offers the cattle an extension of their mainland pasture.
The cows can also find shade behind trees on board the farm and will be milked by a robot, allowing them to choose when they will be milked.
The building will be made of concrete, with galvanized steel frames and a special membrane in the floor that lets bovine urine soak through.
The idea is that the farm will have a circular production system. For example, water from the cows’ urine will be purified and used to grow fodder crops such as red clover, alfalfa and grass under LED lighting. The manure will be removed by a manure robot and dispatched to a nearby farm.
Van Wingerden said: "We believe that building on water is the way ahead in a country with a changing climate and ever increasing urbanisation. The farm is the perfect scalable solution for cities such as Rotterdam, with a lot of space on the water. In addition, we see huge opportunities for this prototype all over the world.
"We will be building with all due speed in the months ahead, so that we can welcome our first cattle later this year."
Find out more about the project here.
Images courtesy of the floating farm website/Beladon