The ‘world’s first floating farm’ has opened in Europe’s busiest port in Rotterdam. It is now home to 32 cows who are milked by robots.
Built-up urban areas may not seem like the most sensible places to run farms, but reducing the distance food travels before it reaches consumers’ plates makes environmental sense as it reduces transport pollution. It also removes the risk of farmland being out of action due to flooding.
Peter van Wingerden, owner of the farm, came up with the idea in 2012 when he was in New York working on a floating housing project on the Hudson river. While there, Hurricane Sandy struck, flooding the city and crippling its transport networks. Deliveries struggled to get through and within two days, it was hard to find fresh produce in shops.
“Seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, I was struck by the need for food to be produced as near as possible to consumers,” says Mr van Wingerden.
Wherever possible, the floating farm is self-sufficient. Floating solar panels provide for all energy needs and rainwater is captured on the roof and then purified- providing fresh water for the cows. The cows are fed and mucked out by robots, whilst the farmer manager, Albert Boersen, lives nearby to keep an eye on his herd.
MAXIMISING COW COMFORT
A big priority for Peter van Wingerden when designing the floating farm, was animal welfare. They try to make the cows happier on the floating farm than in a regular barn. The herd is free to walk back onto dry land to a grass paddock via a gangway, but Minke van Wingerden, Peter’s wife, says that most of the time they prefer to stay on the floating farm.
EASYFIX Siesta free stalls were chosen for the Floating Farm due to their suitability for deep bed systems. The revolutionary EASYFIX Cow Free Stall delivers the freedom of the outdoors-indoors and is proven to maximise cow comfort, improve safety and increase performance. The free stalls accommodate the size of each cow, encourages cows to lie correctly and for longer periods. Increased lying times combined with improved cow comfort leads to higher milk production.
EASYFIX JUPITER F
The Jupiter F mat incorporates an integrated brisket board at the front and pillow on two sides. This unique feature is a ‘world first’ and ensures optimum positioning of the cow when lying in the cow cubicle. The cow mattress has a 45mm layer of PU latex foam, creating a cushioned top surface for maximum comfort.
EASYFIX Evolve is a pioneering advance in animal feed systems that optimises cow welfare and performance.
The Evolve is a feed system designed by EASYFIX to extend the cows reach and allow for increased feed intake. It eliminates injuries and marks which are traditionally associated with steel barriers along with reducing stress.
EASYFIX IN THE NETHERLANDS
To learn more about the Floating Farm, click here.