- Title: Moo-ving to the future? Cows try "Floating Farm" in Rotterdam port
- Date: 1st October 2019
- Summary: ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS (FILE - MARCH 27, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PITCH AT FEYENOORD STADIUM
- Embargoed: 15th October 2019 11:39
- Keywords: milk cows circular economy food sustainable dairy farming solar panels floating platform harbour Rotterdam port
- Location: ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
- City: ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
- Country: Netherlands
- Topics: Environment,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA004AZ9NJPP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An unusual structure has appeared in the heart of one of the world's most urban, and industrial, areas: Rotterdam port. The "Floating Farm" is a venture testing whether small-scale, sustainable dairy farming is feasible in such an environment, far away from rolling green fields of a traditional agribusiness.
Dutch businesswoman Minke van Wingerden is one of the developers of the farm, which now hosts a herd of 32 brown-and-white cows.
She said that the developers wanted to try a floating structure because the oceans cover more than 70 percent of the surface of the globe while arable land surface is decreasing.
The cows, seemingly undisturbed by their futuristic setting on the fringe of Europe's largest and busiest port, can rest on the upper level of the structure or head over to a feeding station for a mix of hay, grass clippings and beer by-products.
Milk and manure processing facilities are located on the lower deck, as well as the visitors' entrance and store.
The structure's roof is used to collect rainwater. Power for the farm comes from a solar panel array floating nearby.
Close to the town of Schiedam, the farm is located in one channel of the "Merwehaven", a harbour within the sprawling 105 square kilometre port, which handles containers ships from all over the world.
The whole farm site is kited out with the latest in dairy tech such as an automated feeding system, manure-scooping robots, self-serve cleaning stations, and even massage brushes for the cows, owners say.
The animals can head across a bridge to a quay-side pasture when they want to get their hooves on firm ground. They eat hay supplemented with a mix of grass clippings from city parks and soccer fields - such as the Feyenoord stadium - beer by-products from nearby breweries, and leftover bran from local mills.
"We try to be as circular as can be," Van Wingerden said.
As part of its aim to be self-sustainable, the farm already has a manure separator used to separate dry material from urine, with the dry part used as bedding for the cows and the urine turned into an organic fertiliser, used on the pitch of the Feyenoord stadium.
The farm sells some bottles of raw milk on-site to visitors, while the rest is pasteurized and turned into milk or yoghurt.
(Production Esther Verkaik, Hortense de Roffignac)
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