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What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is defined as the growth of plants using water in the absence of soil WITH or WITHOUT THE USE OF A NUTRIENT SOLUTION in soil-less media.

 

Where can I get the aluminium trays and barley seed?

We have the aluminium trays in our store in Mwiki-Kasarani. A 4feet by 1feet tray retails at Kshs 500. They are light (500g), durable, and do not rust. Each tray hold 2kg of seed and can produce as much as 15kg of fodder in 8 days.

We regularly stock up our store  with freshly harvested barley in 80kg bags. The barley retails at 45/- per kg or one may take a 80kg bag at Kshs 3,600.

What other grains apart from barley can be used?

Maize, sorghum, wheat, millet and oats can all be used. We recommend barley and Wheat due to their superior protein content of 23% and 19% respectively. Maize has a crude protein of 6% while Sorghum and millet have 12% and 11% respectively.

 

Are the aluminium trays treated?

NO. The trays are not treated and to the best of our knowledge, cannot be treated. The assumption that there are trays that are fungus resistant due to “treatment” is just a market hoax.

If you want to avoid fungus, you will have to practice good hygiene. Clean the trays with either food grade hydrogen peroxide and rinse them well before planting seeds on them. There are no shortcuts.

What are the major challenges of Hydroponic farming?

The major challenge is the high initial cost of setting up a hydroponic farm in comparison to the conventional farming methods.

Another challenge is the expertise required to run a hydroponic shelter especially where values such as pH and Electro-conductivity values should be well translated and corrective measures carried out promptly.

 

Does hydroponics have any risk?

Anything good does not lack a risk.

The major risk in Hydroponics is the invasion by moulds, fungi and water-borne diseases. If these are found in your hydroponic system, they may attack and destroy your whole crop since most of the time water is recycled in most hydroponic systems.

Hygiene and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) eliminate the possibility of such.

 

Is hydroponics viable in arid and semi-arid areas?

The answer is YES!!! Water efficiency is one advantage of hydroponic farming. According to our experience 1.2Litres of water yields 1kg of fodder. The water used in the hydroponic system is normally recycled for considerable amounts of time.

What surface is used to grow the hydroponic fodder?

We grow the barley/wheat fodder on pure aluminium trays. You also have the option of using plastic trays which are more expensive.

How long does hydroponic barley/wheat fodder take to mature?

Normally, hydroponic fodder takes 6-7days to mature though poultry consume barley/wheat fodder that’s 4days old.

Before using barley seeds for growing animal fodder, do you need to soak them in bleach solution?

You do NOT need to soak the seeds in 10% bleach solution to rid off moulds and fungi as many propose. Barley sprouts will not grow mouldy when the shelves and trays have a good slope.

Is Hydroponic farming therefore organic?

It is possible to do organic hydroponic farming, no chemicals whatsoever used in the entire growing period. Classification of organic products can not be based on use of soluble fertilizers or Manure since crops take in nutrients as DISSOLVED CHEMICAL IONS. However, if the control of Pests and Diseases is done with Synthetic Products (Chemicals), the produce can not be certified as organic. Organic methods of controlling pests and diseases can be done using organic products such as Garlic, Neem, Tithonia, African Marigold and Pyrethrum based products.

 

Where is Grandeur Africa’s Farm located?

We are located in Kasarani, Mwiki. Feel free to click the “Contact” tab and get a copy of the directions.

Is the nutrient solution pricy?

Economies of scale state that you pay more for smaller quantities while you tend to pay less when you purchase things in bulk.

We prepare stock nutrient solutions depending on three factors; type of crop, space to be utilized and number of crops to be grown. When these 3 factors are well indicated to us, we waste no time in sending a quotation for the requested cost of nutrient solution.

In general the cost ranges between Kshs 200-300 per liter.

How about delivery of barley/wheat seeds to one’s location?

The price mentioned in the answer to question 8 does NOT include delivery. Delivery is normally organized separately depending on the distance travelled.

It is a separate cost.

Is barley/wheat affordable and available all year round?

Barley seeds are available all year round as it only takes 3months for it to mature. The seeds are currently costing Kshs. 45 per kg. 1kg of barley seeds gives 5.7-6.5kgs of fodder after 6days hence depicts the viability of using it for animal fodder. If 4interested in getting the barley seeds, just contact us on the contacts provided on the website.

What kind of structure is used for hydroponic farming?

The kind of structure required for various plants depends on the climatic region.

50% netted structures have been observed to do well in regions along the Tropics.

Temperate regions require a greenhouse or even glass for lighting purposes

 

Which kind of livestock can be fed on hydroponic fodder?

They include: Cows, Goats, Sheep, Horses, Pigs, Rabbits, Chicken, Quails, Turkey, Geese, and Ducks.

When feeding the above mentioned livestock, do you feed them on hydroponic fodder ONLY?

Ruminants (Cows, Goats, Sheep, and Horses) require a supplement of dry matter in their diet to avoid bloating.

Rabbits and Pigs (Non-ruminants) can be  fed on 50% fodder to make it economical for commercial farming.

Poultry such as quails, Kuroiler and Indigenous (Kienyeji) chicken can be fed on hydroponic fodder as half of their daily feed requirement. Layers and Broilers (Exotic) can be fed on hydroponic fodder only as a third of their daily feed requirements.

 

When growing other plants such as lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes and capsicums, what media is used in place of soil?

There are various kind of media used in hydroponic farming. They include: Rice husks, Sawdust, gravel, volcanic rock such as pumice, peat, sapropel, coco peat, rockwool, etc.

We love Pumice. It is easily available, light in weight and porous.

Do you require a nutrient solution when growing hydroponic barley fodder?

A nutrient solution is not required to grow barley fodder as it is normally harvested after 7days of germination. Any seed has all the nutrients required to germinate for the first 7days. Again, barley fodder has a crude protein of 23%-35% depending on the seeds variety and size. The mentioned range of crude protein meets all livestock protein requirements.

Why do you need a nutrient solution when growing hydroponic vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers?

Use of a nutrient solution is recommended since the soil which harbors nutrients required for plant growth has been eliminated.

The soil also contains a lot of contamination such as weeds, pests, diseases, moulds, fungi and other things which compete with your crops.

A nutrient solution is therefore required to substitute for the nutrients which would have otherwise been provided by the soil.

 

For Frequently Asked Questions on Hydroponic Fodder, please download the document on the following link: https://www.grandeurafrica.com/frequently-asked-questions-on-hydroponic-fodder-technology/