They learn methods to grow protein-rich fodder at a much faster rate
About 100 proactive farmers were trained on using hydroponics – to grow plants with water as base, without soil – to grow fodder. “Fodder grown in about a month can be harvested in seven days with much higher protein content through this technology,” Head of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Namakkal, Dr. B. Mohan told The Hindu .
The programme was organised by the KVK and a Maharashtra-based private firm that is promoting the technology. He said that this technology has been successfully put to use by the University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad, Karnataka. “In Tamil Nadu a farmer in Chennai has implemented it to produce fodder for his goats.
“Hydroponics retains 21 percent protein in fodder unlike protein loss (due to dissolving in sunlight) when it is grown in the field. It takes more than eight months for a goat to reach full weight but protein-rich fodder grown hydroponically helps goats reach the same weight in about four months. This is a boon for farmers who have very small space to reap big returns quicker,” Dr. Mohan added.
P.B. Upase who heads the Sales and Marketing division of a firm that is promoting this technology said that a kilogram of seed can produce eight kilos of fodder is seven days using this technology. He said that only about 250 sq. ft. is required to grow a tonne of fodder every day, irrespective of changes in the climatic conditions.
The setup has seven racks – one for each day. The track in the lowest level is taken to the next on the following day to facilitate growth with the conditions that support it on that day in that level. It has sprinklers to water the plants and maintain the temperature at 24 degree Celsius, UV lights and machines to dispense carbon dioxide and ozone.
“A kilogram of seed requires about 80 litres of water to grow in soil. But hydroponics requires only two to three litres in seven days. It is ideal for areas deprived of rainfall and very poor groundwater sources. With a few modifications the machine could also be used to cultivate a few varieties of greens and vegetables for human consumption.
“Handling the technology is also easier and cost effective compared to the traditional mode of growing fodder. One labourer can harvest one tonne in two hours every day, and it can be directly used to feed cattle. This fodder can be used as 75 percent of the feed of goats and cows to gain weight and to yield more milk that is thicker and of better quality, cost efficiently,” he noted.
Zonal Project Director of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research Dr. S. Prabhu Kumar, Head of the KVK in the University of Dharwad Dr. Jitendrakumar Jilli, Dr. Mohan and Mr. Upase addressed farmers and also clarified their queries.