Thursday, 3 April 2014

Hydroponics fodder technology innovation arrives in Kenya

Kenyan livestock farmers are growing fodder in 8 days using an innovation called hydroponics fodder technology. Kenyan livestock farmers can now grow high quality animal feeds for maximization of livestock yields. These sounds too good to be true yet it’s tested and proven. The high yielding hydroponics fodder technology innovation is fast spreading in the country, offering Kenyan livestock farmers round supply of nutritious green fodder. Hydroponics fodder technology has a cycle of eight days producing up to 50 kgs of the fodder in a 20 by 10 feet space, enough to feed 20 mature cows or 120 goats all year round. Christened by Kenyan livestock farmers as hydroponics fodder technology, due to its ability to grow fodder and other crops without the soil, it has been embraced by Kenyan livestock farmers as a solution to land scarcity, as a factor of agriculture production is continually becoming limited in the face of population pressure and skyrocketing cost of commercial feeds. 

The innovation has been in existence for the last 50 years globally. Kenyan livestock farmers are just piloting the innovation with majority of about 2 million livestock farmers in Kenya yet to try it.  Hydroponics fodder technology innovation application involves germination of seeds in nutrient rich growth media solutions instead of soil, producing nutritious grass/ root combination. Hydroponics fodder technology versus ordinary cattle feed pasture production requires minimal space and the resulting pasture has is more nutritious. A greenhouse with trays stacked on is required for this innovation. Hydroponics fodder is grown under controlled environment in a six to 10 day cycle. Barley is the most preferred by the innovation due to its superior performance. Grains develop roots and green shoots to form a dense mat. Carbon dioxide addition cuts the growing time to four days and increases production by upto 25 percent.

144M2 greenhouse can hold about 1800 trays and produce an average of 1200kg per day using only 800 to 1000 litres of water. This amount of fodder can be used to supplement 100 heads of cattle or 500 heads of sheep or goats per day.
Kenyan livestock farmers have found the following advantages in hydroponics fodder technology innovation:-
Hydroponics fodder technology innovation has ability to save water as its biggest advantage. It requires about two litres of water to produce one kilo of fodder compared to 80 to 90 litres required to produce one kilo of green grass. Hydroponics fodder technology also saves Kenyan livestock farmers the agony of expensive fodder storage facilities because the innovation guarantees a constant supply of high quality fodder.