It’s always very odd when you plant all your seed sprouts all at the same time, and some appear to be growing faster than others. It happens that there are patches that have not grown, or some parts are growing extremely long and the other parts pretty short. It is possible to get evenly growing fodder. To do this we have to go all the way to the beginning.

A lot of farmers are using timber to build their hydroponic structures. Timber is at times very accessible for all a farmer usually has to do is just fell one tree on her shamba, and presto! The problem with this is that the timber is not well seasoned and will warp as it dries up. One should be aware that this will distort the shape of the shelves where the trays will be placed. This distortion or the angle of the shelves on which the trays rest on will lead to uneven growth of the hydroponic fodder. This is because the water will move in a meandering manner on the trays because of the peculiar angles it is placed on. To combat this, it is advisable that a farmer obtains seasoned timber. Long (17ft) cypress timber, cross-sectional area of 2” by 2″

This may not guarantee a perfect slope, but a really good one. This type of timber is expensive, but remember that it is a one off purchase that is more than likely to get you good results. If nearly all of the seeds are growing well on the trays because of this move, you will get better harvest of hydroponic barley/wheat fodder. In building the shelves it is also advisable to place the 3 lengths of timber parallel to each other. Many people do not put the middle beam. This results in the trays sagging at the middle as the hydroponic fodder adds in weight. Sagging leads to water stagnation, and that my friend is a recipe for disaster. It will not only lead death of the seedlings, but also the spread of fungus. Do not take shortcuts. Build as it should. Go a step further and contact an expert on this. Building properly from the start will relieve you a lot of stress in the future.

Another important step you should take is how you place the sprouted seeds on the tray. Once you have place them on the tray, use your hands to level the seeds. If you leave them in heaps on the tray, they will grow unevenly and only the seeds at the top of the tray will grow. This is bad news and can be avoided by simply leveling the seeds on the tray.

Another measure you should take is mostly one based on technique. When running the structure it is good to sprinkle the entire tray with water. Especially the young trays that are below 4 days old. Pouring water at one end of the tray and hoping that gravity will do the rest. The problem with this, is that the water will run at the bottom of the tray and only the seeds at the bottom will get sufficient water. This works well for the older fodder (4day to 8 day old) since they already have an elaborate root system that will soak up all the water, but not so for the younger trays. Sprinkle water all over the young trays and you will get good results.

Makes sure the trays are on a gentle gradient. If it too steep, the fodder at the end of the slop will grow tall, but the ones at the start of the slope will be considerably shorter.  Again do not make it flat, as water will well up, creating a swamp like environment and result in the death of the seeds.

It may seem a bit tedious to take all these measures, but it comes with no debate that hydroponics is a far much simpler system of farming as compared to the traditional hoe and soil techniques. This is our opportunity to do something big in agriculture, to be part of the future. The population of the world is increasing at an astronomical rate. We are glad that you are interested in hydroponics, and together, we can map out the future.