Environmental Growing Conditions
Where we choose to grow our fodder is a decision that needs to be made early on.
Considerations such as truck access, animal access, utility access, and neighbors can all be a part of your decision.
If you are growing with a small unit on your farmstead you will need access to water and electricity as well as a place to dispose of wastewater. You would like to be close to the animals that you are feeding and have road access for receiving your seed.
This does not change much when you go to a larger system, except everything increases in size.
You will likely need grain bins and grain handling equipment.
The enclosure that you want to grow your fodder in is based on several items. The building needs to be large enough to house the footprint of the unit plus access around the unit for maintenance and cleaning.
The building height (sidewall) must also accommodate the height of the unit plus extra access space. Because we are conditioning this space a ceiling might be a good idea also.
To keep our electrical costs down to a minimum, it will pay to insulate our building well. I recommend an R-60 roof and R-40 wall.
The electrical requirements for your fodder system it self is very low. Operating solenoid valves and motors on an infrequent basis. The bigger that you grow, the larger this number becomes. Adding the cost to maintain the temperature in the room adds to this cost. Depending on your location, you may use Natural Gas for heating and Electricity for cooling.
To the right is a chart that shows the cost of HydroGreen Automated machines. This cost is for the machine usage itself without heating and cooling.
Controlling the temperature is very important to us as we create the ideal temperature for the crop that we are growing. Our goal is to keep the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees F.
However, we must control humidity along with the temperature along with the humidity. As the temperature in the room increases, the humidity must decrease. This works well in the summer months when the Cooling system is removing water. Our biggest challenge is in the winter months when we will need to run dehumidifiers.
The area of lighting is growing and changing every day. With LED lights become more readily available, and the ability to tune in the frequency of the light (color) we provide the color spectrum that optimizes growth.
Adding nutrients to the watering stream.
The seed has just enough nutrients to get the plant established. Any other growth must be powered from additional nutrients, which normally come from the water. However, we have the capability to add additional nutrients into the water. We are continually testing different ingredients to determine blends that may give increased growth.
Additionally, we are experimenting with adding nutrients to the water stream to see if the plant will uptake these nutrients into the plant. For instance, Barley fodder is low in calcium, so if we can add calcium to the water and increase the amount of calcium in the plant, that might eliminate the need to mix a calcium supplement with the ration.
Prevention of mold.
Mold is present on all cereal grains from the field.
Our first line of defense is to buy higher quality seed. The second line of defense is to keep the temperature and humidity low enough that conditions for the mold to spore are not present. Then our third line of defense is to treat the water with a disinfectant that will kill any mold. The two most common disinfectants are chlorine and hydrogen peroxide. We prefer hydrogen peroxide because of better test results and cost.
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