DA urges farmers to use hydroponics systems

June 11, 2022 Cory Martinez 125 views

DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar has urged farmers to use a hydroponic fodder system, a technology that will allow them to grow and harvest feedstuff in a week.

Dar said that farmers must resort to new technologies to cope with the disruption in export flows due to the Russia-Ukraine war resulting in world food prices hitting an all-time high in the first quarter of the year.

“In this trying time, more than ever, we need to galvanize the scientific community to produce the technologies that will help our farmers save on cost without compromising the quality of their produce,” Dar said.

“This ‘feednovation’ study conducted by the International Training Center on Pig Husbandry (ITCPH) of the DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) involves a hydroponic fodder system that is both cost-effective and sustainable for livestock and poultry feed production,” Dar explained.

Dr. Ruth Miclat-Sonaco, DA-ITCPH chief and National Livestock Program (NLP) program director, said that the study was conducted to search for viable solutions to lower the cost of feeds since feeds comprise 70 to 80% of the cost of producing pigs.

“Through hydroponics, we will be able to produce locally-sourced fodder crops such as corn and legumes as a ration for pigs in seven days. Fodder hydroponics is also seen as an answer to those who want to engage in animal production but have a limited area to plant fodder. This means economic use of land while being able to lower the feed cost of livestock,” Sonaco added.

She explained that the system requires a temperature and humidity-controlled growing room designed to sprout grains. The selected grains are put into trays without soil and sprayed with water solution at predetermined intervals.

“There is no electricity usage whatsoever. After only seven days, the fodder is removed from the tray and can be fed to the animal. Since the animal eats practically everything, there will be no wastage making it cost-effective and sustainable,” she added.

Results of the ATI-ITCPH showed that a third of the feed requirements for starter pigs may be replaced with hydroponic fodder without a negative effect on the growth. Feed cost was also relatively lower when hydroponic fodder was supplemented to the pigs.

Sonaco also added that in comparing the feed cost, supplementing hydroponic fodder at the rate of 1/3 of the total consumption is still cheaper than that of 100% conventional feeds, which is P444.96 versus P590.

ATI-ITCPH offers a three-day training emphasizing this technique as a feed alternative for pigs and poultry.

“I commend ITCPH for conducting this initiative, which proved to be successful as this study that they have initially conducted at the Center has been reaping benefits to its farmer-beneficiaries,” Dar said.

“We welcome this kind of initiative. Now more than ever, because with all the global economic challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded with the Russia-Ukraine crisis, we need to cushion the effects of these crises and elevate our game,” he added.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has resulted in a 17.1% rise in the price of grains, including wheat, corn, barley, and oats.

Approximately 30% and 20% of global wheat and corn exports come from Russia and Ukraine, respectively.