Crop production will change
A solution for every modern farmer.
The future: Hydroponics is used to compensate for the scarcity of animal feed, soil and water by only growing in fodder in greenhouses. The pasture is used for nature and forests to realize a liveable Netherlands. Of course, livestock will have to decrease (80% after all is export) and an alternative must be found for natural sources in order to be able to guarantee the nutrients in the fodder system. Don’t forget the impact on our footprint. The production and processing of animal feed accounts for 45% of the carbon footprint of livestock farming. We have now laid the foundation for Hydroponics fodder.
Hydroponics fodder is a controlled dietary release via the hydroponics principle (water + nutrients) in a fodder system. Each grain type has its own hydroponics formula to replenish the deficiencies that arise with normal fodder systems. We call this the BASIC fodder. In addition, we have an extra addition for every animal species that improves the quality of the animal, its meat and derived products. A special supplement increases its resistance and immune system to prevent diseases and weaknesses. We call this SUP fodder. We have hydroponics fodder special especially to improve exclusive properties in the animals. No so-called Hydroponics fodder company in the world yet uses the principle of hydroponics in its feed system in this way. it is very different from the usual fodder systems that only use water and offer less quality. The misunderstanding is that these companies also describe it as hydroponics fodder. But numerous conversations with companies show that they usually have no idea of what hydroponics really is.
Hay and grain prices are rising worldwide, partly due to the unpredictable weather patterns that damage pastures due to droughts or floods. Livestock farmers in many countries need reliable and affordable feed for their livestock. Due to the unavailability of high quality green fodder and hay throughout the year, farmers are forced to use extra concentrate for optimal milk production, for example. Prices rose by an average of 15% in the summer of 2018 to record levels for hay, silage, as well as for sugar and fodder beet. In 2018 and this year this was exacerbated by the drought and high temperatures, which meant that cattle stayed indoors longer and there was a greater demand for feed. It is clear that this trend is a given for more extreme and unpredictable weather patterns. Currently, nitrogen release also plays an important role in this and these factors together form an incentive to look for stable, reliable and inexpensive alternatives to conventional feed. It is therefore a considerable challenge to achieve sustainable feed innovation for the regular markets. Especially since the majority see costs and competitiveness as important barriers, followed by a lack of appropriate regulation. But there is also a lack of sustainable food and especially a lack of information about the sustainability profile of the existing food.
Quality of hay
A lot of hay is of poor quality nowadays and therefore the farmer has to feed a lot. In many cases the roughage is only seen as a fiber / filling and shortages may be supplemented with all kinds of supplements. The properties that good hay must contain include that it is harvested naturally matured (predominantly in the seed) and contains a diversity of grasses, flowers and herbs, that it is not sealed and that the land from which it originates has not been used. fertilizer, slurry or chemical pesticides. In addition, other factors also play a role in the quality of hay. Many vitamins, including vitamins A and E, lose their activity as time passes. After about six months these vitamins are practically no longer in the hay and this process is further accelerated by exposure to sunlight, heat and rain. The solution could be to (partially) replace the hay. Not by concentrates, but by a good hay substitute. 100% GRASS FED, just like an organic cow that grows at its own pace, without concentrates, corn, soya or grains. Only Hydroponics fodder grass.
Hydroponics fodder a solution
One of the most important obstacles that many feed producers are increasingly confronted with is the variability / inconsistency of the feed, mainly due to seasonal fluctuations. By using hydroponic feed, one is sure of the quality and quantity of the feed that is consumed. This consistency of feed can lead to better-tasting end products of consistent quality, which is one of the most important goals. Similarly, consistency in feed also increases the quality of meat, milk, eggs and other animal products. The production of hydroponics feed is undoubtedly the right way to significantly improve the quality of animal products. It is not only suitable for chickens or cows; the feeding system can be used in many ways. For example, it can also be used to feed horses, deer, cattle, pigs, poultry, alpaca, sheep and goats, but to a lesser extent also dogs and cats. Although the financial benefit, yield and quality of fodder-sprouted fodder crops are not very favorable at present, the concept has a strong appeal to those who want to be more self-sufficient in feed. Especially in the summer months it is an excellent way to deliver quality feed. It may be suitable for producers who do not have local sources of hay or feed, or simply want to be more self-sufficient. Also for producers of small animals (rabbits, etc.) But there is hope …. drought and scarcity will eventually force the farmer to take measures.
The benefits according to practice are:
- Water consumption reduction and conservation compared to field irrigation;
- Decrease in phosphate and nitrogen in the manure (up to -20% phosphate);
- Decrease in ammonia content in the stable;
- Reduction in the total daily feed costs;
- An increased nutritional value in the feed;
- High yield in a very small area;
- Increase your independence by growing food for your animals without the need for agricultural land;
- High digestibility;
- Vitamins & mineral saturation;
- Phytate reduction for pH normalization;
- Enzymatic activity increase;
- Increases in Omega 3, amino acids, natural hormones;
- 365 days a year availability of fresh green food on request – all season.
Normal fodder system In practice
Commercial fodder companies often report that a kilo of grain can be converted into six to nine kilograms of germs; a multiplier as an advantage over the costs. But the largest part of the weight gain is water, which of course benefits water consumption for the animals. A grain has limited potential for growth without access to light – and therefore photosynthesis. To multiply the macronutrient content, it should be able to produce sugars and build new tissues. In fact, grains lose a percentage of their dry weight as they absorb water and suffer further loss due to the energy required to germinate. If a kilo of grain produces eight kilos of germs, where the dry matter content of the grain is ninety percent, then the dry matter content of the seeds is ten percent and the yield of dry matter actually falls from 0.9 kg / kg to 0.8 kg / kg. In tests, the actual dry matter content of germs is highly variable (6-16%), which means that an eight-fold increase in weight with a minimum of 12 percent of shoot-dry dust is required to achieve a modest yield of six percent dry matter (before taking into account losses such as less than complete germination, which is reported to be 80%). In practice it is very unlikely that an increase in revenue could be realized and this has since been described in several publications. But these are the figures of the common fodder systems.
Hydroponics fodder in practice
Sprouting grains using hydroponics in a fodder system has the potential to change the nutritional profile. This creates a feed that can be advantageous for some livestock farms. Although more research is needed, there are sufficient reports of significant improvement in the nutritional content of the germs that justify the additional costs of using a nutrient solution instead of just water (Sneathand Mclntosh, 2003; Dung et al., 2010a). A positive response to added nutritional solutions has clearly been reported. The nutrient solution (Dung et al., 2010a) for the production of feed via hydroponics contained, depending on the crop and animal: Ca, K, N, Fe, Mg, S, P, Zn, Mn, Cu, Bo and Na on a level of 89.20 respectively; 81.90; 75.10; 1.80; 20.80; 43.20; 3.20; 0.40; 0.50; 0.01; 0.10 and 0.10 ppm. It is quite interesting to note that the production of hydroponics fodder requires only 3-5% water to produce the same amount of feed that is produced under field conditions (AI-Karaki et al., 2012). To produce one kilo of fodder maize, approximately one and a half liters (if water is recycled) to three liters (if water is not recycled and drained) requires water. In addition, the use of an NFT channel instead of a misting system can help to further reduce water wastage, as well as the tendency towards fungal infections, which is one of the biggest obstacles for hydroponic feed producers. It is clear that a hydroponics feeding system offers the possibility to change the nutritional quality of grains and thus of the animals. In essence, sprouted grains can be considered as a dietary supplement in situations where they can correct an existing nutrient deficiency in a cost-effective way. Ultimately, animals need more macro-minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur) than the microminerals (iodine, iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, zinc, selenium). If animals do not consume enough of the macro-minerals, this will lead to decreased production, infertility problems, bone weakness and increased incidence of non-infectious diseases. It also has other consequences; for example, a dietary supplement that uses a specific type of seaweed can increase production while reducing methane emissions. And that is why the use of Hydroponics is a valuable addition to normal fodder use.
Hydroponics fodder special
The basic principle of hydroponics is that the nutritional nutrients are tailored to the vegetables that you want to grow. Every vegetable, fruit or herb needs a different nutrient composition in order to develop into a fully-fledged and good product. So this principle also applies to the grain that you want to use via fodder. That is why we have put together the basic formula for the type of crop / grain that you want to grow. In addition, it is important that the animal that receives its food via the fodder system can also achieve added value for its health. With the nutrients you can easily change the proportions and add specific minerals, hormones, vitamins and enzymes. The advanced techniques such as hydroponics, drip irrigation, vertical agriculture will eventually have to become a fixed part of agriculture. If we don’t do that, we can reach a day when farmland may not be enough to grow food for all of us, including the animals. So let’s all try to use newer and advanced techniques to keep growing with less space, fewer resources and more space for the environment.
Don’t be fooled by companies that use so-called hydroponics fodder. They do not. They only use water.
© Ed van der Post