A few days ago, I happened across a newspaper report about some enterprising Chinese folk who plan to build a very large ship-based farm.
Their project is named (not surprisingly) “FarmShip” – and it immediately captured my imagination.
The same size as a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the FarmShip will enable horticulture and poultry production using desalinated seawater.
The massive vessel will serve as home to an unspecified number of people and is designed for zero pollution – sourcing its energy from the wind and sun.
The ship will have the ability to move to the most favourable location for food production and power generation.
In places like Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong (and many other parts) where land is either unavailable, or unaffordable, it makes sense to create farming infrastructure that floats…..particularly if the organisms are those that require water.
Being able to move the “farm” around to minimise environmental impact….or to follow amenable climates or markets…..is an another idea that has merit.
It seems like a great use for ships that have reached their ocean-going “Use By” dates. They might have another 20 years in them as farm hulks – able to be moved by tugs as needed.
While not quite on this scale, other minds have looked to the seas and rivers as prospective farming sites.
Formation Design Group’s Equinox concept is another carbon-neutral and self-sufficient offshore farming platform.
The Equinox is intended to serve coastal regions with an emphasis on areas with dense population lacking adequate land for food production. It runs on an electrical propulsion system that is fueled by renewable energy collected by the platform’s onboard solar and wind generators.
The platform also harvests rainwater and desalinates seawater for use within the floating farm. Premium crops are to be grown using hydroponic methods. The greenhouse nurtures crops and protects them from environmental exposure at sea. The platform also has the ability to anchor at the most suitable food growing locations at sea, and after the produce is ready to be harvested, the platform can return to shore to offload and sell the harvested crops.
Even more futuristic is the Venus Project’s “Cities in the Sea” design.
While not ships as such, the Cities of the Sea project is designed to accommodate people and relieve the land based population pressures.
These cities can serve as oceanographic universities that maintain the ecological balance of marine systems. Other ocean cities will maintain sea farms that will cultivate many forms of marine life. They could also be used as a new resource for mining the relatively untapped resources of the oceans without disturbing its ecology. Still others may monitor and maintain environmental equilibrium and reclaim dangerous radioactive and other pollutant materials that have been dumped into the sea.
These structures are to be built on land and then towed to the most beneficial locations and anchored to the ocean floor. Some structures will be towed in prefabricated segments and then joined together at selected locations. Their internal construction will include floatation chambers – rendering them practically unsinkable. They can be self maintained and fully automated.
Aquaponics – all at sea.