US (NY): Fodder production using hydroponics studied at Cornell

A hydroponic forage study at Cornell University showed a small decrease in dry matter intake and an increase in efficiency to make milk when fed in a dairy cattle TMR.

You may be asking yourself, "What are hydroponic forages?" The word "hydro" means water, and "ponics" comes from the root word meaning work. To put it simply, it means working with water, and in this case, it entails using water and a little bit of light to grow or sprout wheat and barley seeds.

"Hydroponics refers to a growing practice where you can grow grasses in a controlled environment without the requirement for soil," says Joe McFadden, research lead at Cornell University. Land shortages and drought conditions have caused hydroponic forages to gain interest in recent years. As it becomes more difficult for farmers to access quality forage, they have started to look at other options for producing feed. There is interest in these systems to replace land as a forage production center.

"If we can overcome the labor demands with automation, hydroponics has the potential to reduce costs of feed production and provide some consistency in the diet over traditional forages," McFadden says. "And as we think about the future of a carbon credit economy and how we reduce natural resource use, discussions that focus on hydroponic feed production have merit."


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