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Floating Rice Fields, the quest for solutions to combat drought floods and rising sea levels

Lim Soon Heng

Amazing as it seems, there is a case for growing rice on floating platforms in the sea. The capital expenditure to develop this is offset by the opportunity to repurpose the land for a number of commercially attractive activities. It would also eliminate crop failures due to droughts and floods soil degradation due to higher salinity and lower water table.

This paper examines ways crops have been cultivated in the past. Crops are almost exclusively grown on land. Urban farming in recent years have led to the development of structures enabling crops to be produced in multi-tiers over the same plot of ground. Crops have also been grown over water surfaces on floating and semi floating structures on freshwater bodies. Apart from seaweeds, no vegetables have ever been successfully cultivated in the sea.

While low-salt tolerant rice is being developed, rice has never been grown in the sea.

The paper proposes a system where rice is grown on floating platforms with freshwater fed from a freshwater storage facility founded on the seabed.

The key to success for the system is to develop a water storage system which is fed by the runoffs from the rice fields and supplemented by lakes or rivers on land.

KEYWORDS: rice, drought, flood, salinity, climate-resilient

Lim Soon Heng.webp

Lim Soon Heng is the Founder President of The Society of FLOATING SOLUTIONS (Singapore). A Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology in the UK, he graduated in 1968 with a degree of in Mechanical Engineering.  


His career is largely associated with Keppel Offshore and Marine, one of the leading offshore rig builders of the world. He has lead engineers in the design, building and conversion of ships and shipyards and published. He has delivered papers on floating solutions in various countries and peer reviewed many more by international authors.


He believes Singapore has reached an inflexion point in space creation and must shift from massive land reclamation in the past to floating solutions in the future.


The Society of FLOATING SOLUTIONS (Singapore) has members dealing with an array of activities related to floating structures including their design, classification, construction, towing, mooring and commissioning.  It held the first World Conference on Floating Solutions, WCFS2019 in April 2019 at the National University of Singapore.

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