Irish woman creates container farm to grow fodder

A West Cork-based woman has developed a computer-controlled fodder production system that promises to save farmers money, radically improve cow health, and increase milk production.

Ella Goddin’s FodderBox is essentially a ‘field in a box,’ the equivalent of a 40-acre field in a 40’ container, with zero water pollution, air pollution, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides. It is capable of sustainably producing a ton of fresh premium fodder per day by using hydroponic technology.

Ella was motivated to begin her FodderBox journey after the fodder crisis back in 2018. She also runs a horticulture business in Carrigtwohill and at the height of the crisis had farmers ringing her in desperation looking for hydroponic equipment to grow fodder.

"I could see that the market was looking for this and that technically this was achievable," said Ella, originally from the US, and now living near Dunmanway. "FodderBox is like printing environmentally sustainable stackable land that produces a premium crop, day in and day out, for a fixed predictable cost."

Her motivation is to help farmers save money and improve animal health. "A ton of grain-based feed costs €300 to buy; two tons of hydroponic fodder, using something like barley seeds, costs €100 to produce," she explains. Research also shows that hydroponic fodder delivers peak nutrition that is maximally digestible.

Since her light bulb moment, she has conducted extensive research, got support from Enterprise Ireland, established scientific and market validation, and embarked on research trips to China, to get her agri-tech business to where it is today.

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