India: Greenhouse fodder in 7 days brings cheer to farmers

Growing fodder in a small space without soil, less water and by the seventh day of production? Hydroponics technology has made it possible in India, as it involves growing plants without soil. "Hydroponics green fodders are produced in greenhouses under controlled environment," N P Singh, director, Indian council of agricultural research (ICAR), Old Goa complex, said.

Goa State Cooperative Milk Producers' Union Limited, Curti in Ponda, set up ten units at different dairy cooperative societies under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) scheme of the central government for the production of hydroponics green fodder. One unit was also set up at the ICAR in Old Goa for research.

The lack of availability of land, salinity problems, costly labour inputs and more time (up to 45-60 days) for its growth are major constraints in fodder production. "Hydroponic fodder helps farmers as an alternative to conventional methods of fodder cultivation," said Prafulla Kumar Naik, ICAR's senior scientist (animal nutrition).

Maize is considered the best for fodder production. "Goa's climate is hot and humid and maize, as a khariff crop, is suitable," Naik said. If air conditioning is used in the green houses in which hydroponic fodder is grown then the input cost goes up but the selection of maize obviates the need for it. The nutrient content is also good as it contains proteins, carbohydrates and fats which make it apt for cattle feed.


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