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Review: Hydroponic Fodder Workshop

Peeking at the Fodder-Pro Feed SystemOn Wednesday April 4th we hosted our first fodder workshop. Just like our hydroponics workshop in February, this day-long seminar was a great success. We had students from all over the country attend. We were very pleased to have two separate groups fly in from TX and we had groups from OH, IN, MN, MI, WI, NE, KS, MO and even CA! The gentleman from CA flew in specifically for the sprout and microgreen portion of the seminar. He wanted to learn an easy way to expand his business and our customized fodder growing systems were the answer.

The groups from TX had bigger mouths to feed quite literally. Fodder production is very intriguing to proactive farmers in arid regions. They pay $30 per small square bale of hay! Incorporating fodder into their beef operation is not only logical for water conservation, but it’s also purely economical.

Sam answers questions in the Technology CenterAnother TX gentleman who attended is already feeding fodder to his horses and loving the results.

We also had guests attend who were fish farmers and interested in working fodder into their operation to utilize the great fertilizer that the fish provide. Fodder can work for most any farmer.

We had a young entrepreneur attend who has a hydroponics shop in Ohio. He feels that the versatility of the Fodder-Pro Feed System could work well for many applications

After a great lunch provided by Country Junction complete with a beautiful salad utilizing our hydroponically grown lettuce, my greenhouse specialist Allen showed our guests some of the ins and outs of fodder growing with a good hands-on segment and greenhouse tour. Our guests got a feel for how easy fodder growing can be. We had them do it all from seed soaking and spreading to harvesting to plumbing the system. Everyone always seems to enjoy the hands-on sessions so much.

Examining the seed in the Fodder-Pro Feed SystemOur guest speakers included Steve Shilling of Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC and Jim Welter of Welter Seed. Steve blends custom feed rations for all sorts of livestock so he spoke on incorporating fodder into a feed program and some of the benefits that fodder provides. Steve took the nutritional data that we had from our various fodder trials and crunched the numbers for us. He then created a really great comparison chart of various feed rations for a wide range of livestock that we incorporated into our workbook for the students. Jim Welter of Welter Seed (where we get our fodder seed) spoke on some dos and don’ts when it comes to choosing seed to grow in your fodder system. I really appreciate both gentlemen taking time from their days—and busy season—to come speak.

Speaking of the workbook (72 pages of great fodder/sprout info!—for sale for $50), we also had Amber Jaeger, a human nutritionist with Hy-Vee Foods write an original document for us on the health benefits of incorporating sprouts and microgreens into your diet. Not only are sprouts and microgreens healthy, but they can also be quite profitable if you do it right. Some of these tiny wonders bring $80-90 per lb!

Visiting the hydroponic lettuce demonstration areaOur wrap up at the end of the day was a Q and A session. My expert guests for that portion included Kyle Taysom of Dairyland Laboratories and Liza Hassevoort of Hassevoort Farms. Dairyland is where we send our fodder for nutritional analysis so he answered some questions on various tests available, how they test and testing for pathogens. Liza did a call in for us. She and her husband Kevin are fish farmers from Leon, IA. They are customers of ours who are putting our systems to very good use. They use the fish emulsifications to feed their lettuce, microgreens, sprouts and other vegetables! They are very active in local farmers’ markets and also direct sell to supermarkets. She answered marketing questions, sprout questions, fish questions and handling and storage questions. People really took a lot of good info home with them from her portion. I am going down to visit the Hassevoorts on the 30th to see their operation firsthand – stay tuned for more information about my visit.

All in all it was a great workshop with a lot of positive feedback. Now we’re busy preparing for another hydroponics workshop on June 6th. We hope to see you there!

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