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Research on greenhouse gas reduction using hydroponic fodder system

CubicFarm Systems, a local chain agricultural technology company, today announced that a scientific journal has published a case study involving HydroGreen, a division of CubicFarms that has pioneered innovative technologies to produce live green animal feed.

This article finds that HydroGreen’s technology has great potential for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the animal agriculture industry. It warns of the imminent pressures on our food systems through demand for consumption of animal products, which are becoming more apparent as our global population increases, with estimates suggesting a global population of almost 10 billion by 2050.

Hydroponic fodder and greenhouse gas emissions: a potential avenue for climate mitigation strategy and policy development was published by Canadian Science Publishing in Facets, the official journal of the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science. This scientific research was developed through a collaboration of academic researchers and industry experts.

Academic researchers include members of the prestigious Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley: Dr. Lenore Newman (Director and Canada Research Chair in Food Security), Dr. Robert Newell (Associate Director), and Charmaine White (Research Associate).

Industry leaders participating in the research include Mathew Dickson, Managing Director of Hallbar Consulting, a sustainability and waste consulting firm; Bill Vanderkooi, President and CEO of Nutriva Group, a strategic consulting firm to the dairy, egg, and beef industry; and Tim Fernback, Chief Financial Officer of CubicFarms. Dr. Newman and Tim Fernback are also members of the newly-formed CubicFarms Scientific Advisory Board.

The journal article explores the potential for hydroponic fodder production for contributing to climate mitigation in fodder agriculture. Case studies compare GHG emissions and the carbon sequestration potential of hydroponically grown sprouted barley fodder to conventional barley grain fodder. The case study analyzed fresh livestock feed grown in the controlled environment using a HydroGreen Grow System when compared to traditional farming methods.

Results of this published case study indicate that incorporating hydroponic systems into barley production has the potential to reduce GHG emissions. Results also show that hydroponic farming can provide greater carbon sequestration opportunities than simply shifting to no-tillage farming.

HydroGreen technologies deliver reliable, cost-effective onsite feed production with a minimal environmental footprint, using 92% less water, less land, less energy, and less labour when compared to traditional growing methods. Further results indicate that hydroponic fodder farming could contribute to climate mitigation objectives if complemented with effective energy and land-use policies.

Dr. Newman commented, “With approximately 70% of all agricultural land being used for some aspect of livestock production, beef and dairy farming currently represents approximately 14.5% of all human-induced GHG emissions. Feed production and animal waste represent the two largest sources of these GHG emissions, representing 45% and 39% respectively. Finding solutions like the HydroGreen hydroponic growing system that can lower overall GHG emissions caused by livestock will be critical to solving the world’s GHG emission problems and reduce the overall effects of global warming. This latest research estimated that the HydroGreen demonstration farm produced 7.4% fewer GHG emissions (per nutrient mass) than were found with conventional barley grain fodder farming, and greater reductions can be achieved with improved seed-to-fodder output, indicating that transitioning to such systems can result in GHG reductions and (ultimately) climate mitigation benefits. These are exciting findings and a bright light in the otherwise gloomy world of climate change.”

Dr. Newman continued, “The long-term future of animal agriculture is uncertain. As new alternatives to meat and dairy products are developed, consumer preferences shift toward these alternatives, and global trends in vegetarianism rise. The livestock industry is a major contributor to climate change and other critical environmental issues that challenge global sustainability, and perhaps a complete transition to sustainable food and farm systems involves decoupling these systems from animal-based industries. However, climate change is a critical imperative that requires immediate attention, and, although vegetarianism and veganism have experience dramatic increases in recent years, so has meat consumption. In addition, animal agriculture is socially, culturally, and economically significant to communities and societies across the globe, and it supports the livelihoods of numerous people. Transitioning toward sustainable agriculture, and immediate solutions are needed for reducing the impact of livestock industries is a long-term agricultural trend.”

Read the complete research here.

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