While hydroponic farms are predominantly viewed as a way to sustainably grow fruits & vegetables, the technology can also be used to reduce the environmental impact of beef and dairy production.
Hydroponic fodder farms present a highly productive and efficient way to grow animal feed using a fraction of the water and land otherwise used in conventional farming.
Advantages of hydroponic fodder
Use of water
By applying water directly to the root of the plants and recycling the water several times, water wasted is significantly reduced
On average, 1.5-2 liters of water are needed to produce 1kg of green fodder hydroponically, in comparison with up to 160 liters required to grow grass under field conditions.
The use of hydroponics accelerates fodder production by as much as 25%
Plants mature faster and more evenly under a hydroponic system than a conventional soil based system
One kg of un-sprouted seed yields 8-10 kg green forage in 7-8 days
Hydroponic fodder containers can produce up to 1,000kg of barley or maize fodder within 7-8 days, in only 29m2
In conventional farming, one hectare of land would be required to achieve a similar yield
While dry matter content is slightly reduced depending on grain type, hydroponic fodder is richer in crude protein, fibre, ether extract, vitamins and minerals
Hydroponic fodder feeding has been proven to improve milk yield and composition of dairy cows through increased intake and digestibility of nutrients
Left: Dairy cows feeding hydroponic fodder. Green fodder of barley, corn, as well as alfalfa and Rhodes grass are also suitable for horse, goats, and beef cattle.
Right: Hydroponic fodder farms are fairly inexpensive to set up and can grow large quantities of fodder in small spaces using vertical layers.