One of the technologies adapted by Naluyima involves growing fodder using hydroponic systems. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Only moisture and nutrients are provided to the growing plants. There are many advantages to hydroponics. Hydroponic growing systems produce a greater yield over a shorter period of time in a smaller area than traditionally- grown crops.
The technology ensures a reduction or exclusion of pesticides and herbicides because the plants are in a protected environment. Hydroponics is a year-round growing system that produces a consistent quantity and quality of plant material, Fodder (livestock feed) can be grown hydroponically much the same as vegetables, fl owers and other plants.
Hydroponic fodder systems are usually used to sprout cereal grains, such as barley, oats, wheat, sorghum, and corn, or legumes, such as alfalfa, clover or cow peas. Naluyima grows barley under this technology because it is the most commonly grown forage that usually gives the best yield of nutrients. A hydroponic fodder system usually consists of a framework of shelves on which metal or plastic trays are stacked. After soaking overnight, a layer of seeds is spread over the base of the trays.
During the growing period, the seeds are kept moist, but not water-logged. They are supplied with moisture and (sometimes) nutrients, usually via drip or spray irrigation. Holes in the trays facilitate drainage and the waste water is collected in a tank. The seeds will usually sprout within 24 hours and in 5 to eight days have produced a six to eight inch high grass mat. After the mat is removed from the tray, it can go into a feed mixer or be hand-fed to livestock. Livestock will eat the whole thing: seeds, roots, and grass. There is minimal waste. Livestock may not eat the fodder initially because it is novel, but should soon learn to eat it with relish.