One of the key advantages of a hydroponic fodder system is its low water use. Many parts of the US are currently experiencing drought conditions. Just today, CNBC reported on the exodus of dairies from California to other states, primarily because of water issues, but even in the Midwest, water is an issue. While these ongoing droughts will hopefully end soon, higher water prices, increased competition for water rights and water restrictions are probably here to stay.
FodderTech fodder systems are true hydroponic systems. Unlike many fodder systems, our system recovers and recirculates water. This means we can grow fodder using 98% less water than it would take to grow a comparable amount of forage in a field. Many systems also use overhead spraying, which is not only messy and inefficient, but also promotes mold growth. Our systems use nutrient film technique (NFT) to water from below.
While it’s true that it takes water to grow the grain you input to a fodder system, grain can be easily sourced and shipped from all over the country, while hay is more difficult to transport and store. So grain can be produced in places where it makes sense to grow it, instead of drought stricken areas, or on farmland where more lucrative crops can be grown.
In addition, a fodder system amplifies the feed value of the grain you purchase. A pound of grain becomes seven pounds of fodder, but you don’t have to replace a pound of grain with seven pounds of fodder in your animals’ diets. Recent studies, and the experience of farms using fodder have established that fodder can replace grain on closer to a 2:1 ratio – two pounds of fodder can replace one pound of grain with superior results. This is due to the digestibility and nutritional superiority of sprouts. In essence, a fodder system converts one pound of grain to 3.5 pounds of feed on an ‘as fed’ basis. So even though it takes water to grow grain, a fodder system very efficiently multiplies the feed value of the grain.
So if you have any type of livestock operation, what better investment could you make for the future than a system which largely drought-proofs and weather-proofs your farm by greatly reducing water and land use, while lowering feed costs, improving livestock health, reducing your use of chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers and producing premium grass-fed meat, dairy or eggs?