from here & there - Soil-free cultivation of fodder

from here  & there - Soil-free cultivation of fodder

Hydroponics, where plants are grown in water, without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions has come as a boon for farmers, who find it difficult to grow grass for their cattle in summer. In this method, one can grow 1 kg of green fodder in 10 days using 12-18 litres of water. In the normal method, the same would require 45 days and 80 litres of water.  Of late, more farmers are opting for this method.

One such farmer, who has successfully experimented with hydroponics, is Prabhakar of Bellibattalahalli village in Tumakuru district. A keen follower of organic farming practices, he is open to experiments and innovations in farming. When he realised that getting green fodder is a big challenge during summer he opted for hydroponics. In this method, he soaks 1 kg of maize seeds overnight and then spreads them on a tray of 1.5 X 3 feet dimension. The tray needs to be kept in a closed room to maintain humidity. He sprays water over the seeds once in two hours. This continues for 7 days after which he gets about 5 kg of green fodder.

While plants naturally absorb nutrients from the soil when grown on land, in this method grower has to provide calculated amount of nutrients. Prabhakar purchases nutrients as suggested by the Veterinary Department.

Prabhakar has observed that while the method has proved useful to farmers it has also provided nutritious food for the cattle even in summer keeping them healthy and increasing milk production. The crops that could be grown in this method for fodder include finger millet, cowpea and foxtail millet.

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