There are a lot of question about the use off the foddersystem in Africa. A lot of people are reading my site about the fodder. (www.hydroponics-nederland.nl/hydroponic-fodder) Therefore this article.
On the surface, the concept of producing hydroponic fodder in a hydroponic system is quite appealing to farmers because 1kg of grain provides 6 to 10kgs of hydroponic fodder in 6 to 10 days. However, when you scratch below the surface, you realize that hydroponic fodder is not quite a viable option for feeding your cattle and especially sheep, cows, and goats.
What is Hydroponic Fodder?
Fodder is food given to livestock. Thus, hydroponic fodder is the livestock food produced using hydroponics. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil in a hydroponic system.
Why does the hydroponic fodder contain less DM content? The seeds used to prepare the hydroponic fodder lose between 7% to 47% DM during soaking and germination.
How do the seeds lose their DM content?
They lose DM during soaking and the subsequent sprouting processes because of the leaching of materials and oxidation of substances from the seed. During soaking, seeds lose their solutes. They lose most of the solutes during the water uptake stage which stops after 24 hours. Perhaps, this is the reason farmers are advised to soak their seed for a similar period. Several studies, for example, Flynn et al. (1986), have found that barley, among other seeds, lose 24% in DM in an eight-day production cycle.
Therefore, hydroponic fodder contains not only less DM but also few nutrients.
The farmers should sterilize the seeds using a sterilizing agent, for example, hydrogen peroxide. Also, they should ensure proper hygiene in the hydroponic system. Also, they must clean the grow trays thoroughly using a chlorine-based solution before and after using them. Effective way of controlling mold
The farmers should install and use manual or automatic fans to regulate the humidity. These equipment increase the investment and energy costs.
Perhaps, the biggest challenge that farmers face is the high initial capital investment. They must acquire hydroponic fodder units, seeds, and construct a greenhouse. Also, they must have access to considerable energy to grow the hydroponic fodder successfully. The access to the main grid electricity, especially in most African countries, is limited. Thus, such farmers would have to install solar energy which is again expensive to acquire. Perhaps, this is why governments and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) subsidize the installation of hydroponic fodder units.
The hydroponic fodder production requires sufficient skilled labor which is expensive to hire. Labor is required to soak the seeds, transfer them to the grow trays, place the grow trays onto the shelves, monitor the fodder’s daily growth, remove the ready fodder from the grow trays, clean and sterilize the trays, and take the fodder to the livestock. Farmers can automate some of these processes but at a high investment cost. Nowedays you can controle it completely with a App. (asked us for the company)
Also, it is expensive to buy seeds, for example, barley, wheat or oats.
Depreciation reduces the value of the hydroponic fodder units. It is expensive to replace or buy new units from time to time.
Livestock cannot be fed hydroponic fodder alone because of its low DM content. They still require hay and other dry forage. Perhaps, this is the reason why farmers question the need to produce expensive hydroponic fodder instead of buying other affordable supplements in the market, and growing livestock fodder on private or leased land.
Where May Hydroponic Fodder Fit? More information on my site