Hydroponics farming is basically the growing of terrestrial plants using nutrients solutions, in water without any soil composition. This method of farming has a number of advantages – besides the fact that it is a very neat way of farming, it enables any farmer to produce crops of choice irrespective of the area they live in and whether the soil composition in the area supports the kind of crop they want to cultivate.

What is Fodder?

Fodder is animal feedstock used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. The term “Fodder” is used in particular reference to food given to the animals (including plants cut and carried to them), rather than that which they forage for themselves. So many feedstocks can be used as fodder – these includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and pelleted feeds, oils and mixed rations, and also sprouted grains and legumes. Here we shall discuss quick highlights of cost effective hydroponic fodder systems which can significantly lower the cost of animal feed.

Farmers around the world have adapted the technology to suit their local needs (you can check these hydroponics pioneers in east Africa . . .

Photo: Hydroponics Kenya – specializes in the manufacturing, installation, and marketing of customized hydroponic fodder and vegetable systems to help small and medium holder farmers

Benefits of hydroponics systems

  • Water use reduction and conservation compared to field irrigation
  • Reduction in overall daily feed costs.
  • Significant reduction if feed waste – the entire root mass is consumed with the grass
  • Increased nutritional value in the feed
  • High yield in a very small area
  • Hedge the increase in feed costs by pre-buying large quantities of grain to have on hand
  • On-demand availability of fresh green feed 365 days a year – all season access.

Notes

  • Mold and fungus growth can be a challenge.
  • It can be labor intensive to rotate and clean trays and transport the feed.
  • Seed quality is a crucial factor in the overall success and quality of the fodder produced.
  • The storage systems for large quantities of grain needs to be considered in the costs and setup of an-on-demand fodder system.
  • Some of these systems require power to operate and a lack of power/water in emergency situations needs to be factored in the setup.

Starting a hydroponics farm and fodder system is not the kind of business you would want to invest in without first carrying out comprehensive research. You have to be well informed about the business you are about starting. It will pay you a great deal to read up all you can about hydroponics farms, fodder systems, and local adaptations in different parts of the world.

Choose the Crops to Cultivate: There are varieties of crops you can cultivate in your hydroponics farm. For your feedstock production, you have to work with what is in demand in your area. The result you get from your market survey and the kind of crop that can substitute for this will be key. The good thing about hydroponics farming is that you can afford to farm varieties of crops at the same time as long as you have enough space and the right nutrient solution that will support the growth of such crop.

Prepare your production site: The location you chose to start your hydroponics farm is vital to the success of your enterprise. Ensure that you choose a place that is spacious enough for you, and a place that is close to your target market. Prepare your site in consultation with experts in the field. You can get a lot of resources on this over the internet.

Get creative: You have to get creative with your methods here, so they suit your local conditions and clientele. From the variety of crops to start out with to improvision of working equipment to your packaging and delivery systems, there is a lot of room for creativity, specialist knowledge and positioning in this business.

Access your Market: One of the most important factors that will determine how successful you are as an entrepreneur is your market. It is important you develop a sound marketing plan that will enable you to penetrate the market as fast as you can. Consider giving demonstrations and training to local farmer groups, associations, etc. This will position your firm as an expert in the industry and get you a lot more exposure.

Be diligent and thorough in your understanding of the business details – Get started and keep an open mind. Be quick to learn trends and new imaginations in your line of business. Persistence and the determination to succeed are the most important skills you bring to the table.


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