Comprehensive Guide to Hydroponic Fodder
Planting, Benefits, Techniques, Feeding, and Solutions
Hydroponic pasture is a widely used method of producing animal feed globally, particularly in urban and surrounding areas, where air pollution and land issues have impacted traditional agriculture. Hydroponic technology is increasingly used by farmers and businesses to grow pasture. Hydroponic pasture can be grown using a variety of grain seeds, such as wheatgrass, oat grass, barley grass, corn grass, and rye grass.
Depending on different feeding goals, you can choose pure water cultivation or add a moderate amount of nutrient solution and trace elements to improve meat or milk production. The basic principle is to place pasture seeds in a planting trough and provide water and nutrients to the plants through an irrigation system and nutrient solution.
Advantages of Hydroponic Fodder Compared to Traditional Soil Planting:
- Stable Yield and Quality:
Hydroponic forage can grow rapidly, typically taking only about a week to harvest, and due to controlled environmental conditions, its yield and quality are more stable.
- Saving Land and Water Resources:
Compared to traditional planting methods, hydroponic forage production does not require a large amount of land and does not waste water resources. According to statistics, hydroponic forage can save up to 90% of land use and 70% of water resource use.
- Efficient Nutrient Utilization:
Hydroponic forage can accurately control the nutrients needed by plants, allowing them to efficiently absorb and utilize them. Compared to traditional planting methods, hydroponic forage can save up to 60% of nutrient usage.
- High-quality Feed:
Hydroponic forage is free of soil impurities and bacteria, as well as pesticides or herbicides. It is more palatable, easy to digest, and beneficial to the key performance of livestock production.
In summary, hydroponic forage is an efficient, environmentally friendly, and high-quality feed production method that is increasingly attracting the attention and application of farmers and businesses.
Comprehensive Guide to Hydroponic Fodder
This article is a summary page of our entire guide, presenting you with the main topics and content. If you are interested in a particular topic, you can click the link to enter the corresponding detailed page to get a more in-depth understanding and practical advice. However, even if you don’t enter the subpages, this article itself is full of rich and useful content, which is worth reading carefully.
I. PROS AND CONS OF HYDROPONIC GREEN FEED
Compared to traditional green feed, the hydroponic feed has multiple advantages.
Firstly, it requires less land area, has higher planting efficiency, increases production capacity, shortens growth cycles, and provides high-quality green feed.
Secondly, nutrition can be controlled and is not affected by weather and seasons, making it easier to manage and control.
Although the initial cost may be higher, the comprehensive cost may not be higher than traditional green feed.
Over a longer production cycle, it may help save more costs.
Furthermore, hydroponic green feed farming does not require the use of fertilizers and pesticides, making it more environmentally friendly.
It is not affected by soil-borne pathogens and weeds during growth, resulting in healthier, cleaner, and safer growth.
Most importantly, by adding a nutrient solution system, the hydroponic green feed can be supplemented with various vitamins, minerals, and proteins, which can improve livestock productivity and immunity.
This has been supported by relevant scientific research and experimental data.
Common Hydroponic Green Feed Types for Livestock Feeding
|Barley Fodder:||Grows rapidly, and contains rich chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals, suitable for poultry & livestock feeding.|
|Maize Hydroponic Fodder:||Contains rich protein and various amino acids, grows faster with higher nutritional value, suitable for animal feeding.|
|Wheatgrass:||Has a fresh and fragrant taste, is favored by animals, stimulates their appetite and digestion, commonly used as hydroponic green feed.|
|Purslane:||With less strict growth requirements, grows very fast with strong adaptability, and only needs sufficient nutrients and light to achieve continuous harvest.|
|Sprouting Alfalfa Farming:||Commonly used feed for dairy cows, rabbits, ducks, and other livestock, also a hydroponic fodder that can be continuously harvested. Liquid nutrients can be added to meet the nutrient needs after each harvest.|
Hydroponic fodder systems are not only suitable for growing green feed but also for various microgreens.
Even without using the nutrient solution, large amounts of sprouts and microgreens can still be produced using only water.
II. TIPS OF HYDROPONIC FODDER PRODUCTION
While hydroponic fodder production is a relatively simple task, it still requires the right techniques and methods to be used.
Two steps, in particular, are crucial:
- Seed selection and sterilization.
- Control of temperature, humidity, and light source.
Seed quality directly affects germination rate and disease risk, while temperature, humidity, and light are necessary factors for the healthy and rapid growth of forage grasses and maximum yield.
About The Secrets of Seed Soaking Before Fodder Production
Before using a hydroponic fodder system for planting, grains need to be primed and soaked
(By 5 ~ 10 hours of warm water immersion and ozone sterilization process, and darkroom germination).
This step is also very important because seed soaking has the following advantages:
- Priming can accelerate the germination and growth rate of seeds.
- Fully soaking the seeds can increase the germination rate, which helps determine the maximum yield for hydroponic fodder production.
- Soaking with ozone sterilization can help clean bacteria and fungi on the surface of seeds, reducing the risk of mold or odor.
- Soaked seeds are more likely to develop into strong seedlings in the same growth time compared to unsoaked seeds.
(For more analysis on the advantages and disadvantages of grain soaking and direct germination without soaking, please refer to)
Common Hydroponic Fodder Production Equipment and Their Functions:
|The bottom has holes to allow water and nutrients to flow, avoiding water accumulation, and it is easy to manage.|
|Timed spraying irrigation can provide adequate water and nutrients, promote air circulation and oxygen supply, and prevent root rot or mold growth.|
|Humidity is one of the most important external factors during the seed germination process.|
Low humidity results in low germination rates, while high humidity can cause seedlings to become diseased.
Temperature Control Device
|(Such as air conditioning) Temperature is also important for sprouting.|
If the temp lower, the seeds will not germinate, while being too high can result in mold and odor.
Hydroponic Growing Racks
|It’s the hydroponic vertical farming system, a corrosion-resistant and rust-proof is needed, and the size should be suitable for seedling trays.|
LED Growing Light
|The LED of the fodder system power consumption is lowest than that of vegetables, provided that the light intensity is sufficient.|
Do not excessively pursue light intensity, as strong light can burn the seedlings.
Seed Soaking Equipment
|(optional) Including mesh bags, seed soaking boxes, ozone sterilization equipment, liquid temp control system, and a darkroom.|
These devices can help improve germination rates and reduce the impact of pathogenic bacteria.
Water Circulation System
|(optional) Indoor hydroponic fodder production generally comes with a water circulation system, but container farms may not have one unless it is necessary.|
Choose and use the equipment based on specific needs.
The above equipment has specific functions, and their combined effect can improve the growth efficiency and yield of fodder.
III. METHODS OF HYDROPONIC GRASS FEEDING
Hydroponic grass can be fed directly to livestock, dried and crushed as feed, or used as part of mixed feed.
Suitable Animal Species:
Hydroponic grass feed is suitable for feeding cows, sheep, horses, pigs, chickens, ducks, and other animals.
Feeding Recommendations for Hydroponic Grass
Different types of animals have different requirements and ratios for hydroponic green forage, which depend on their nutritional needs, feeding methods, and market demands.
Let’s take cows and goats as examples to explore why their requirements and ratios for hydroponic green forage differ from each other in terms of nutritional needs and feeding methods.
Confined sheep need a lot of protein and energy to support their rapid growth and muscle development, while free-range dairy cows need enough fiber and protein to produce milk and maintain their digestive health.
Green Feed For Cattle
As ruminants, they require a large amount of roughage to promote fermentation in their rumen.
However, the roughage content in the hydroponic fodder is relatively low, so cattle need to be supplemented with appropriate amounts of roughage such as hay and straw to meet their roughage needs.
In addition, cows have a relatively high demand for energy and protein, so high-energy and high-protein feeds such as corn and soybean meal need to be added in appropriate amounts to hydroponic green feed to meet their nutritional requirements.
Therefore, cows mainly rely on grass as their main feed and hydroponic green feed as supplementary feed.
Green Fodder For Goats or Sheep
Their rumen is different from that of cows and places more emphasis on balancing the microbial community.
Therefore, their demand for roughage and water is relatively high, and the feeding amount of hydroponic green feed can be appropriately increased.
At the same time, due to the weaker digestive and absorption ability of sheep for high-energy and high-protein feeds, high-quality roughage such as alfalfa should be added in appropriate amounts to balance their nutritional needs.
Therefore, they can be fed with a higher proportion of hydroponic green grass, and supplemented with trees and shrubs, such as leaves and branches, which are rich in nutrients and can provide the necessary fiber, protein, and energy for sheep.
V. RECOMMENDED HYDROPONIC FODDER SYSTEM
Hydroponic fodder production uses spray irrigation and circulating water technology for cultivation, achieving intelligence and automated control through temperature, humidity, and nutrient irrigation.
The system maintains a constant temperature between 20-25 degrees Celsius and automatically drips or sprays every 1-2 hours, maintaining a humidity range of 60-70% in the growing space.
In this environment, hydroponic fodder can be produced within 7 days from grains to fresh green feed, and each kilogram of grain can grow into 6-8 kilograms of fresh grass, which can replace more than 20% of concentrate feed and hay compared to traditional grain and other feed materials, greatly reducing feed costs.
There are two common types of hydroponic fodder systems:
Indoor Hydroponic Fodder System:
The indoor hydroponic fodder system is a vertical farming system suitable for any scale.
It mainly involves building the hydroponic fodder growing racks indoors, and then selecting various auxiliary equipment such as water pumps, water circulation systems, irrigation systems, and intelligent control terminals according to actual scale.
The fodder system can be flexibly customized to meet the needs of family farming or commercial large-scale green fodder planting.
High flexibility, able to provide green feed for family or commercial farming. It can greatly increase the yield of green fodder while reducing the comprehensive cost.
Manual assembly yourself is required for small-scale planting, and large-scale planting requires sufficient energy support and complete design plan support.
hydroponic fodder machine ( shipping container farms):
Converting a 20-foot or 40-foot shipping container into a hydroponic fodder machine allows for the easy production of high-quality fresh green feed.
It can produce 500 kg, 1000 kg to 1500 kg of fresh green feed at a time, a fodder machine can produce enough feed for dozens of cows and sheep in one day. There is also a customized 250 kg home hydroponic fodder planting cabinet available, it is suitable for small farms and family feeding.
No need for self-assembly, the equipment is already assembled, and it only requires simple operation and settings to start hydroponic fodder production. Additionally, you can place the machinery anywhere and provide green fresh feed to your livestock even in the dry season.
The initial investment cost is relatively high, and the production capacity of a single set of equipment is limited. External access to water and electricity is required to drive the equipment.
VI. Is the Hydroponic Fodder System Worth It?
Everyone has their own reasons for being intrigued, but a fodder system is definitely worth considering!
Because it doesn’t rely on land and weather conditions and doesn’t require too much manpower or resources, with just the right amount of funding and some basic skills, it’s easy to produce a large quantity of healthy, pollution-free grass feed.
This can help farmers reduce their reliance on hay and concentrated feed, lower feeding costs, increase farming efficiency, and also avoid food shortages that can lead to hunger and death.
Therefore, for farmers, a hydroponic fodder system is a highly worthwhile method of animal husbandry to explore.
What does the hydroponic fodder system bring to animal husbandry?
Solving feed shortage:
For areas where green feed production is difficult, hydroponic fodder systems can provide an alternative solution to solve the problem of feed shortage, ensuring adequate feed supply for livestock.
Improving breeding efficiency:
Hydroponic feed is healthy, pollution-free, and free from harmful substances.
It is palatable, high digestibility, and can improve the diet and mood of livestock, promote growth, enhance immunity, and increase reproductive rates.
Saving time and labor:
Compared to traditional feeding methods, hydroponic green feed can save a lot of time and labor, as they do not require the tedious processes of cultivation, harvesting, drying, etc., and do not need to clean up grass residue, etc.
Hydroponic fodder systems have high environmental sustainability, as they do not require large amounts of land, water resources, and fertilizers, and also reduce soil and air pollution.
Stable feed supply:
Hydroponic fodder systems can produce more feed on limited land, enabling farmers to achieve a stable feed supply and reduce feed shortage problems caused by factors such as weather, climate, and market fluctuations. This directly affects the economic benefits of farmers.