Cleanliness is next to godliness. Being able to maintain a clean system is not only a source of pride for a farmer, but also crucial. Hydroponic fodder is grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides or other chemicals. Thus maintaining a clean system, is one way to avoid the use of these chemicals and maintain an “organically” grown system. These are just a few tips on how to do exactly this:
Use a 50% black shade net: the main purpose of the shade net is to control temperature. But it does have another function in the fact that a lot of dust is blocked off by the net keeping the fodder dust free. Many insects e.g. flies, cannot go through the net, thus there will not act as vectors that spread fungus in the system
Clean the trays with bleach or soap: after harvesting, there is a lot of scum that is left on the trays. This may harbor breeding areas for fungus if not dealt with. Before reusing the trays clean them with, preferably, bleach. If bleach is unavailable for whatever reason, do not fret the least. You can also use bar soap or hydrogen peroxide. The key is to be thorough. Clean them well, rinse them, then you may reuse them.
Do not irrigate with soaking water: to save on water, many farmers opt to use the water used in the 4hour soaking of the barley/wheat to irrigate the systems. This may be economical, but could also lead to a faster development of fungus and a drop in hygienic standards. We have noted on several occasions in the past, that whenever we tried to use this water, we had a fungus problem. Discard the water that is used in soaking. Again there is no real need to soak your seeds in a bleach solution to get rid of the fungus. Keep it simple. Just soak the seeds in water, discard the water, and move on.
Clean buckets and gutters weekly: As the water moves in the system, it carries a lot of starch from the barley/wheat and finally gets to the gutters and the buckets. This builds up scum, leads to a foul smell and attract all types of flies. To avoid this, you will need to get rid of the scum on a regular basis. Clean the gutters and buckets on a weekly basis with a bleach solution or with just soap and water.
Replace recycled water every 3 days: continual reuse of the irrigating water leads to a high concentration of scum in it and reduces the flow of the water, especially through the perforations in the aluminum trays. The scum leads to a bad smell and the attraction of insects. Get rid of it. It’s usually a really small amount of water.
Mop the plastic or concrete floor with bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution, daily: it will be advisable to mop the floor with a bleach solution as people will be moving in and out of the structure every day. This movement brings in mud, soil, dust and other sources of fungus into the structure. The moping also gets rid of any spillages on the floor. It is also advised for you to have a pair of shoes specific for working in the hydroponic fodder shelter, resting at the door at all times and should be worn when moving in. Some farmers go to the extent of putting a mat at the doorstep, soaked with disinfectant.