Floating Vertical Farms Could Feed the World With Cheap, Plentiful Produce [article and video]_Featured_, Environment, Farming Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
Why carve out a farm on land when you can put it anywhere you want on the ocean?
(Co.Exist) When you can’t find room on land for something, make it float. It’s a principle that’s already being applied to wind farms to portions of entire cities to golf courses and resorts aimed at restoring island economies wrecked by climate change. Entrepreneurs are already feeding the urban hunger for fresh produce with rooftop farms andstackable hydroponic farms. Creating large offshore farms, in that context, doesn’t seem so strange.
A team of students from this summer’s class at Singularity University’s graduate studies program has a vision to combine the “cheap real estate [in the ocean] with the high production of vertical farms,” according to team member Oren Pinsky. The initiative is a stab at creating one of Singularity’s 10⁹+ Team Projects, which have the mission of positively affecting the lives of a billion people within 10 years.
Vertical farming, the concept of growing farms upwards instead of outwards, has gained traction in recent years as a way to efficiently feed the planet’s ever-growing population while keeping cities self-sufficient (i.e. with vertical farm skyscrapers). But land is expensive; the ocean might be cheaper.
“We want to make cheap food for people who live close to the sea,” says Pinsky. The floating farms would be extensions of the city, existing solely to provide produce. Ultimately, Pinsky imagines that the farms could chase the weather, using prediction algorithms to move closer to the sun or wherever works best for crop growth.
According to Pinsky, it would cost about $3 million for a two and a half acre floating greenhouse platform featuring aquaponic technology (using fish production to generate nutrients) and aeroponic systems (spraying water with nutrients onto plant roots, reducing the use of fresh water).