According to the United Nations, by 2050, world food production will have to increase by 70% if we're going to successfully feed a projected global population of 9.1 billion people. Architect Javier F. Ponce of Forward Thinking Architecture may have hit upon a solution: smart floating farms. These self-sustaining vessels are equipped to produce a variety of foods, regardless of drought, water scarcity, and even natural disasters.
How do Smart Floating Farms work? The design is based on a three-layered model that combines renewable energy systems and state-of-the-art farming technology. On the lowest level are fish farms, docking areas, shipping and storage facilities, and a processing plant. The second level is home to automated hydroponics, where crops are grown in a soil-less bed of rock wool, coconut wool, or clay, and fed with nutrient-rich water. Gone are the days when food production was limited by the availability of fertile land and rainwater; the floating farm uses treated water, and can be built near literally any city with access to a large body of water, including inland lakes and rivers. Finally, the top level, which is responsible for each farm unit's waste and energy management, houses solar panels, climate controls, irrigation tools, bio-digesters, and water recyclers. (Source: Munchies)
In the first image above, you can see the wide range of produce and fish that Smart Floating Farms will be able to cultivate. In the second, you can see a schematic of the three-layer system.
Are floating farms the wave of the future? Ponce estimates that each farm unit would produce an annual yield of 8152 tons of vegetables and 1703 tons of fish. He writes on the project's website: "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... 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."
I hope to see floating farms becoming a reality in the near future; they seem like an awesome, sustainable way to increase local food production while increasing access to healthy food and decreasing our impact on the environment.