While floating city conceptions are galore, sometimes with their highfalutin scopes and ‘unrealistic’ goals, the ambit of floating farms still belong to a relatively novel niche. A Barcelona-based firm named Forward Thinking Architecture has conceptually built upon this new direction with their designs of the so-called Smart Floating Farms. Envisioned as expansive floating barges, with each boasting 1,150 ft x 656 ft (2.2 million sq ft or 204,000 sq m) area, the gargantuan vessels will comprise both hydroponic and fish-farming facilities. Furthermore, their intrinsic features will allow for a self-sustaining scope, thus essentially transforming these floating farms giant ‘ageless’ stockpiles for humanity’s (future) food and nutritional requirements.
Now, in terms of this working ambit, the top level of the Smart Floating Farms will integrate the green energy production facilities, with its array of solar panels complemented by wind turbines and wave energy converters. The resultant green power generated from such mechanisms, along with partial induction of natural sunlight, will be used for the second level layout of the hydroponic farm. The waste byproducts from these crops can be further used for feeding the fishes on the lower level, while the waste from the fish farms can recycled as fertilizers for the hydroponic farm – thus accounting for a self-sustaining scope (at least in theory).
Other accompanying facilities would include strategic water-access filters, a desalination plant (for converting seawater into fresh water for crops), an on-board stockyard for cutting and cleaning fishes, and a dedicated packaging area from where the ‘grown’ products could be distributed and sold (while also reducing the overall carbon footprint). And arguably, the most ambitious part is – the entire Smart Floating Farm is envisaged to be mostly automated with a flurry of sensor systems. These will maintain the adequate watering procedures and compile the pertinent data, thus effectively streamlining the entire working scope of the marine-based farm. When translated to figures, each of the Smart Floating Farms could potentially produce 8.1 tons of fruits and vegetables and 1.7 tons of fish annually.
Considering all the advanced engineering requirements, suffice it to say, the Smart Floating Farms at present only allude to ‘aspiring’ solutions. From the practical perspective, there can be various obstacles ranging from ocean storm surges to sheer logistical predicaments. However on the bright side, there is certainly an optimistic flair to such designs, especially given the progression of our current technology in hydroponics (check out this existing floating hydroponic farm of sorts). As the designers themselves made it clear –
This is not science fiction. It is a serious and viable solution. It 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.