Hydroponic fodder for cattle breeding in urban areas

hydroponic forage trials

Population growth and urbanization affect the livestock sector, which is the main source of animal protein for the population. In fact, grazing land is shrinking while the demand for food continues to increase, especially in urban areas. To face this issue, the ECLIPSE Madagascar team (FOFIFA/DRZVP) in partnership with the Malagasy Institute for Veterinary Vaccines (IMVAVET) undertakes researches on the production of hydroponic fodder for ruminant feed.

This article has been written by RAZAFINARIVO Tsiri, RASOANOMENJANAHARY Auldine, ANDRIAMBEROMANGA Manovosoa, RAZANANORO Erline, MINIMINY Noelin.

Hydroponics is a cropping system that allows the production of young cereal shoots independently of the availability of cultivable land and climatic hazards. This system is based on cereal germination by enzymes that mobilise the starch and protein reserves in the seed, transforming them into sugars and amino acids. New plant tissues, rich in vitamins that can be assimilated by the animal, thus form a fodder mat about 10 cm thick. In order to have a year-round production, the experiments were carried out in an artisanal greenhouse. This allows the temperature, air humidity and light to be controlled, thus providing the necessary conditions for plant growth. The tests carried out showed a biomass yield of about 400% after 10 days of cultivation. Continuous recycling saves up to 80% of water compared to normal cultivation. Nutritional analyses by Near Infrared Spectrometry (NIR) showed that the young shoots are relatively rich in protein (8.09%) and poor in crude cellulose (9.63). Thus, they are nutritionally relevant for the production (milk and meat) of ruminants. Apart from the initial investment for the installation of infrastructure, hydroponic fodder production is economically advantageous compared to the installation of fodder plots or silage production. Moreover, hydroponic fodder production makes a significant contribution to solving the problem of soil shortage in urban areas and considerably reduces the distance between producers and consumers.