What is floating farm

Agriculture on waterThe floating cowshed

"We are here on the first floating farm in the world. It is a dairy farm with cows - on the water. We see a farm in three layers. Below we have the floating device. In the middle the level of the processes and above the barn for." our cows. "

Minke van Wingerden and her husband run Europe's first floating dairy farm in a former harbor basin on the outskirts of Rotterdam.

An experience in New York gave husband Peter the idea in 2012: After a hurricane, parts of Manhattan were under water. The supermarket shelves remained empty because the trucks could no longer drive to the island.

"We want to produce food as close as possible to the consumer. They live in the city. We have space for it on the water. There the city children can see how a tomato grows or the milk is made, for example."

Agriculture on the water saves transport and relieves the climate.

The goal is a self-sufficient circulatory system

"We will soon be around nine billion people. I wonder how we can all get enough of them. We keep concreting the land even though 70 percent of the earth's surface consists of water and sea levels are rising."

That's what Peter van Wingerden said in 2016. Less than two years later, the Wingerdens' floating farm went into operation. 34 cows live on a 27 by 27 meter pontoon that swims with the tides rising and falling in a former harbor basin. The milk is processed directly on the floor below the cowshed.

At first, many people doubted the idea of ​​Peter van Wingerden (see photo) and his wife Minke. The TU Delft is now supporting the project. (picture alliance / AP Photo / Mike Corder)

Minke van Wingerden: "It is only pasteurized and homogenized. The result is milk with full fat content. That is why it tastes so wonderfully creamy."

A fire-red robot drives back and forth in the cowshed. It collects the manure from the cows and feeds it into a separator. This separates the wet and dry parts of the manure.

"The dry portion is then sterilized and used as fertilizer in the city's parks and gardens. We are currently working on a concept of how the minerals can be filtered out of the wet portion of the manure. The rest could then be discharged into the sewage system."

Originally, the Wingerdens wanted to create a completely self-sufficient circulatory system on their floating farm. But they are not that far yet.

"Originally we wanted to let the grass for the cows grow under LED light on the level below the cowshed. Unfortunately, the area is not productive enough and it would be very expensive. So we looked around the city and found a lot of waste products. with which we can feed the cows. They upcycle this biomass into healthy milk, so to speak. "

What the baristas love

The cows now get grass from meadows in a nature reserve on land, potato peels from a French fries manufacturer and organic waste from a Rotterdam brewery. The Wingerdens have invested 2.7 million euros in their farm. With ten employees, the business is sustained, although the milk at 1.50 euros for three quarters of a liter is significantly more expensive than conventional milk.

"The baristas, for example, love our milk because it's so good for cappuccino. We sell it direct to restaurants and cafes. A shipping company also uses electric cars to deliver our products directly to grocery stores all over town. And then we have the floating one Farm also has a small shop where end consumers buy our dairy products on Fridays and Saturdays. "

The cows seem to be doing well in the barn on the water. You look healthy and satisfied.

"Our animals are MRI cows, Maas-Rhein-Ijssel. This is a typical Dutch breed. They are suitable for milk and meat production. We took them because they have a calm character."