May 23, 2008 at 5:11 pm #510
I’ll throw this out there:
If one could do it cheaply enough, there’s no reason that platforms devoted exclusively to farming would have to be on spars.
Instead, you could construct hundreds if not thousands of little wooden planters that simply float on the water’s surface.
I don’t think it would take too huge an engineering feat to make even planters filled with dirt buoyant enough. If you lash these together, you could keep them near your seastead.
I would think there could be a way to design such plant boxes that they wouldn’t automatically sink every time it rains too much, Harvesting crops, of course, would be rather expensive. Modern combines are designed for land use.
But as I say, I’m just throwing this out there to let the magic of the collective mind refine the idea.
UPDATE TO THIS POST:
Wayne Gramlich notes below that I’m late to the party on this idea. Check out the fascinating page he references here: http://www.geocities.com/vacoyecology/Bubble_ponds_fluke_boats.htmlMay 23, 2008 at 5:28 pm #2325
I’m allowing that, unlike spar-design seasteads, these farmsteads would be vulnerable to the odd natural disaster. I’m just positing that you could potentially set up such an operation knowing that such losses will occasionally come your way and prepared to bear the cost. You could buy crop insurance to help ease the occasional blow.May 23, 2008 at 5:46 pm #2327
At ocean depths of 1,000 to 3,000 ft, the temperature is around 40 Deg F.
No dirt required-
“Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.”May 23, 2008 at 5:52 pm #2328
Sounds like a good idea. I think you´d have to make sure that the crops wouldn´t come in contact with seawater though as that probably would kill everything.May 23, 2008 at 5:58 pm #2329
I’m sure that’s exactly right.May 23, 2008 at 6:02 pm #2330
These are all fascinating.
I’ll say this about the relative costs: hydroponics and greenhouses are expensive ways of growing food, even on land.
There’s no reason to think they’d be cheaper at sea – indeed, everything you’d do would probably include a fixed cost of floatation.
If the costs of floating a farm project are a factor nomatter what form the project takes, I’d say that cheaper farming that approximates traditional methods might be more cost effective.
(Whether my idea approximates traditional methods – or is even feasible – is probably still an open question, I’ll grant you.)May 24, 2008 at 8:29 am #2346
Well, mere plants would probably not be as bothered by wave action bobbing them up and down. Well, with the exception of corn (that whole inner ear thing).
- So essentially rafts could be built much more cheaply.
- They don’t need to house much equipment (if any), or people.
- They could have a much shorter designed lifespan
- They could be daisy-chained together for local towing, and stackable for longer movements (maybe interlocking rails on the top and bottom, angled at each end so one tilts down a bit and the next tilts up to mate the ends, then slides into place. A winch drags them onto the deck of a tender ship, or a crane picks them up and stacks them higher
There’s still the issue of what crops would grow in that environment. Most terrestrial crops need lots of non-salt water, soil to root in with biological nutrients, etc. It might work with some salt/tidal marsh plants to establisha mini-habitat. It would be difficult to grow anything that gets tall like mangrove trees, at least on a raft, but such a species would probably be invaluable to stabilization of shoreline on an artificial island and might even be workable on the more stable main seastead.May 24, 2008 at 6:34 pm #2359
A number of us independently reached the same basic conclusion. Here is the link you need to see: Bubble Farms. The basic concept is that inflatable structures can be made remarkably cheap. As long as human life is not at stake, losing an occasional platform is just an economic issue.
Farming, water production, and power can be taken off the spar and loaded onto inexpensive inflatable structures.May 24, 2008 at 8:53 pm #2360
So . . . um, that is about the coolest possible incarnation of the idea I could have ever imagined.
Why isn’t this kind of stuff getting posted on the wiki?
I mean that page really is spectacular. Way to go. No need to reinvent that particular wheel.May 24, 2008 at 10:05 pm #2362
Short answer. We need all the help we can get to organize these ideas into a more coherent picture. Just asking the questions, forces me to dig into my mail archives and fish out the relevant stuff. So, thanks for posting the question.May 26, 2008 at 8:21 pm #2453
FYI, tsunamis are inches high in deep water.
-JoelMay 26, 2008 at 8:33 pm #2454
A combine harvester has to be moved over the land, which is a hassle. If all your farmland is on narrow concrete barges, it can be towed underneath the machinery, and becomes much more like livestock: pulled in to be “milked” and “fed”, then sent out to “pasture” for a while. I think it might be better to have a much larger number of much cheaper, smaller, open, unpowered boats, with little more than a drip irrigation system, and have mangroves in most of them to keep the waves and salt spray off of the cache crops in the inner circle. Not sure how many you would need to build a storm-proof breakwater, but I’m guessing that would be cheaper than all the glass, electronics, and engines in the fluke boats pictured. -JoelMay 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm #2456
You really don’t want all your little farm rafts fouling each other’s lines. I think you’d find a model wherer they are moored at each end, and you work along the lines to be more effective. Like trappers lines, only connected. either that or like crab/lobster pots where they are individually moored along an imaginary line.May 29, 2008 at 11:15 pm #2673
I’m currently putting as many links, information and ideas in wiki as i can find on the forums. However, some ideas are cool, but I see no “objective” way of putting these proposals in an `objective` manner. Please check out http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/Design_Proposals .May 30, 2008 at 6:11 am #2679
(I feel terrible that I can’t contribute more often, but there are only so many hours in a day…)
The idea I have been playing around with in my head is that each farmstead would be free floating. It would have a GPS receiver and some level of communication ability — probably some revision of 802.11[n-z]. As the farmstead drifts further and further away, a little robotic boat gets their locatations, fetches them and tows them back closer to home. This would all be automatic with no user intervention. When bad weather occurs, the owner has to decide whether to dump crops, deflate and store, or risk it riding out the storm.
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