18 Jun First Hydroponic Growing System Mobile Containers Introduced in Georgia
Georgia is a mountainous country with favorable climate conditions for raising Dairy and other livestock in nearly all areas. These favorable climatic conditions has given rise to village-specific dairy value chain system that produces a short list of traditional, soft cheese varieties that are seasonally marketed through a producer-specifc chain reaching consumers locally, regionally and nationally. Cheese quality is widely variable from factory-to-factory and production within these village value chains is also tied to the local climate conditions that favor summer milk production, causing market price drops during the periods of high production. To increase quality requires higher quality of fodder. To increase price is to produce milk (and cheese) in the winter months. The main challenge to achieve this is to introduce an economical supply of winter feedstock/fodder.
One solution is the use of climate controlled Hydroponic fodder Systems that produce a consistent quality and quantity barley or wheat sprouts, regardless of outside weather using inexpensive, readily available seed, These mobile hydroponic growing containers have been specifically developed to sprout green mass for highly-nutritious, yet cost effective, livestock feed. Grain and/or legume seeds are spread onto specialized growing trays and are watered at pre-determined intervals with overhead sprays. A set temperature is maintained inside the growing chamber to ensure the best growth and highest nutritional value fodder possible. All internal processes are automatic, which takes seed to feed, in only seven days. Each day the farmer simply slides the feed out of the trays, rinses the tray, reseeds and pushes the newly-seeded tray into the other end of the System. The animals will eat the entire mat, roots and green growth, without any waste. The System produces 28 trays per day (300-500kg) from only 30-50kg of seed using a small fraction of the water necessary for traditional field-grown fodder and none of the storage or infrastructure of traditional feeding systems. The systems are being still being monitored but are expected to pay for the capital investment cost in under 18 months through increased production and milk quality during price-favorable months.
The Two Dairy enterprises involved in taking advantage of this this new feeding technology are Santa LLC, a woman-owned, family-operated dairy company with diversified dairy products has been operational since 1997 in Tsalka, Georgia; and, NNLE AGDA, established in 2008, representing dairy farmers from the Jorjiashvili village in the Tetritskaro region of Georgia. Two staff members per farm were trained by an international expert provided by the Turkish company vendors who installed and tested the systems. Both Santa LLC and NNLE AGDA have received Technical and financial assistance as implementing demonstration partners of the RED programme.