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Growing fodder hydroponically

Posted September 29, 2015 5:51 pm by editorialteam

Quits lucrative job to develop fodder growing hydroponic system. Also
runs a goat farm
Qualified engineer gives up well-paying job in Dubai to develop a cost
effective hydroponic system for growing fodder for livestock! My first
introduction to hydroponic system was in Dubai when I was in job. I
instantly liked the system and got keen to know more about it with the
aim to set up similar system in my village Junnar, Maharashtra, says Mr.
Ashwin Ramesh Sawant, Founder of Junnar Goat Farm. On his return to
India, he invested six months in research on the subject and also
interacted with people across the globe related with hydroponic system.
He also planned to start the goat farm.

500 kg/day fodder producing hydroponic systems cost Rs. 10-12 lakhs.
Hydroponically produced fodder is extremely nutritious for the goats and
production cost is very less but the machines are too expensive. I wanted
every farmer raising livestock to use hydroponically grown fooder. So I
decided to develop the new system myself. To do so I required a real
working place therefore I started Junnar Goat Farm in 2013, he shares.
Mr. Sawant learnt in detail about the procedure to grow fodder
hydroponically but realized there were few challenges to cope with,
Controlling high temperature, maintaining humidity, air ventilation and
water content, he says. Further usually hydroponic systems work in air
conditioner rooms and there is no power supply for 24hrs in villages. To
solve these issues he took some help from the people outside India using
hydroponic system to grow fodder.
In order to grow fodder successfully hydroponically room temperature
should be 23-24 degree Celsius, not more than 25 degree in any case and
humidity should be controlled at 60-65%. If temperature and humidity
are not monitored as stated then fungus starts developing on the fodder
which is harmful for the animals, he says.
In hydroponics air ventilation plays a crucial role for growing fodder. The
roots require oxygen while shoots require carbon-di-oxide for the uniform
growth. Hence to enhance the air ventilation in the fodder growing room
I used exhaust and ceiling fans, he says. Talking about water content Mr.
Sawant shares, TDS (Total Dissolve Solids) in water is very important. It
should not be more than 250, ph should be 6-6.5 while EC (Electrical
conductivity) should be 1-1.5.

I am creating a green house cabin with glass on the sides. It is closed

enclosure. To incorporate all key factors yet keeping the infrastructure
cost and later operational cost low I am using fan system instead of air
conditioner. The cooling system in the enclosure will bring down the
temperature only with 5-6 fans and water spraying, he elucidates.
Fans also run using power, Yes! But 5-6 fans can also run on a backup
system in case of power cut but not an air conditioner. Further power
consumption for fans will be surely cost less in every aspect than using an
air conditioner, he clarifies. 300 sq ft area will need 2 tons AC and the
operating cost will increase by Rs. 4-5 thousands due to electricity
The cabin is in process, expected to be completed in 15-20 days. It shall
produce 500kg fodder/day. In one year more than 200 tons fodder can
be grown in the cabin, he adds. In open cultivation to grow 200 tons
fodder 3-4 acres of land will be required which is difficult for the farmers
to arrange unless they have their own land. The cabin will be functional
for 365 days with less operating cost.
When asked why he favours hydroponic system, he promptly replies,
Apart from the high nutritional value of the fodder, less man power,
water and space requirement, the fodder is available for feeding the goat
in just 6-7 days unlike in the traditional method where it takes close to 2
months to obtain the fodder. Within 6-7 days fodder must be given to
the goat. If the fodder continues to grow beyond 7 days it will not be
spoilt but the nutritional value would be decreased. In hydroponics the
seed cost is reduced drastically. It works out only Rs. 3/kg, adds Mr.
Sawant. 1 kg seed produces 6-7 kg fodder.
Hydroponically grown fodder is complete food in itself, highly palatable.
There is no need for giving additional concentrated feed to the goats. I
am feeding this fodder to my goats for last two years and I observe the
animals are healthy and resistant to falling sick. It has to be given as per
the weight of the goat. Fodder required for female and male goat is 2-
3kg/day and 4-5kg/day respectively, shares Mr. Sawant and adds, Along
with this fodder it is also essential to give dry feed else the animals might
suffer from diarrhea. So to solve this problem I dry the hydroponic fodder
in sunlight for 2-3 days and feed the goats. It makes a balance diet.
Speaking about his Junnar Goat Farm he says, We produce three
different variety of fodder namely wheat, maize and barely. In winters
we grow wheat and barley as it requires less temperature that is 20-22
degree Celsius while maize is grown is summers as it can sustain upto 27
degree Celsius. Farm has mixed breed of goats sourced from different
Indian states. Presently there are 100 goats and plans are to double the
numbers by next year. During festive season like Id male goat developed
and sold at the farm weighs 70-90 kgs.
Mr. Ashwin Sawant runs a goat farm but is committed to encourage people
to grow and use hydroponic fodder hence he soon shall be starting a
training center at his farm and is also writing a book on the same. The
cabin I am developing targets small farmers that give them easy access to
nutritional fodder. I foresee a revolution with this cabin, he concludes.
Contact details-
Junnar Goat Farm
Farm Address Junnar Taluka, Pune District, Maharashtra
Correspondence Address Dr. Maheshware Road, BIT Chawal Number 7,
1st floor, Room Number 10, Dongri, Mumbai 400009
Mobile: 9773567904, 9850980317

Hydroponics Green Fodder Feeding Technology in Goa

Goa produces one third of its daily milk requirement of

about four lakh litres and for the rest totally dependent upon the other states. The major issue
with dairy farming in Goa is non-availability of feeds and fodders. Most of the farmers of the state
have below one hectare land. So that state is facing the problem of land for grazing. The problem
persists because of small land holding size, soil salinity, high cost of fencing and labour charges.
Annual requirement of concentrate, green fodder and dry roughages in state is about 1.23, 10.08
and 1.67 lakhs tons, respectively. But supply doesnt meet the requirement. Market cost of the
feeds and fodder are very high (Rs.15, Rs.5, Rs. 10 per kg of concentrate, green fodder and dry
roughages, respectively).

For the betterment of dairy business, one hydroponics green fodder production unit has been
established by Goa Dairy at ICAR Research Complex for Goa, Old Goa under the Rashtriya Krishi
Vikas Yojna (RKVY) scheme of Government of India. 10 more units were established at different
dairy cooperative societies of Goa under RKVY. Each unit has production potential of 600 kg green
fodder daily in seven days. The ICAR Research Complex for Goa has standardized the production
and feeding practices of the hydroponics green fodder and imparting technical advices to the dairy

It Is Grown Up By Maize
This green fodder is grown up by maize. Soaking time of only 4
hours is sufficient for maize seed. Soaked seed produced from 1.25 kg un-soaked maize seed is
loaded in a 90X32 cm tray. Hydroponics green fodders look like a mat consisting of roots, seeds
and plants. About 3.5 kg and 5.5 kg hydroponics green fodders were produced from each kg of
yellow maize (CT-818) and white maize (GM-4), respectively. Production cost of hydroponics green
fodder from white maize (Rs.4) was lower than yellow maize (Rs.5). In comparison to conventional
green fodders, hydroponics green fodders contained more crude protein (13.6 vs 10.7; %) and
less crude fibre (14.1 vs 25.9; %). Intake of hydroponics green fodder by dairy animals was up to
24 kg/animal/day. As green fodders is an integral part of dairy ration, in situations, where fodders
cannot be grown successfully or progressive modern dairy farmers with elite dairy herd can
produce hydroponics green fodder for feeding their dairy animals.

It Increases Milk Production

Mr. Suryakant B. Gawde, from Mandrem village in Pernem Taluka of Goa, has a herd of 12
crossbred cows and four heifers. He supplies 60-70 litres milk daily. His biggest problem was non-
availability of quality green fodder. One unit of the hydroponics green fodder production system
was established at his farm. Since then he is producing green fodder maize under hydroponics
technology. On daily feeding of 10 kg hydroponics fodder maize per cow, he saved 1.0 kg
concentrate mixture per cow and experienced enhancement of 1.0 litre milk per cow per day,
which was equivalent to 12.5% of the milk production.

The young calves fed with 1-2 kg hydroponics fodder gained higher body weight (350g Vs 200g)
with better skin coat. By spending Rs.40 on hydroponics green fodder he saves Rs. 20 on
concentrate mixture and additionally earns Rs. 30 on enhanced milk production per cow per day.
Along with the additional net profit of Rs.10 per cow per day, the animals remain healthy.

(Source: ICAR Research Complex for Goa, Old Goa)