Abigail’s Fodder for Thought – Get Growing Anywhere!
So you’re wondering where you can grow your own fodder without putting up a whole new building, are you? It’s easier than you think! At FarmTek, we strive to suit our customers’ needs, so whether you have a greenhouse, barn, basement, garage or fabric structure, you CAN produce your own fodder. FarmTek can significantly reduce your upfront investment by converting virtually any space (besides your front porch!) into an area for your fodder system. We offer over 30,000 products, making us your one-stop shop for any and all of your fodder needs. In this post, I will take you through some of the most common customer concerns I see and how FarmTek can address them.
No Natural Light
This is a frequent concern, but an easy one to tackle. Many customers consider the use of their basement, garage or hay mount for installation of the Fodder-Pro 2.0 Feed Systems, but are concerned with the lack of light in these areas. There is no reason to worry, however, as we can duplicate natural sunlight virtually anywhere. The key to successfully addressing this issue is to focus on the Kelvin (K) temperature rating, which will ensure you can achieve proper growing light in your space. This rating should be 6,500, which duplicates natural sunlight. If you have traditional incandescent sockets available, simply screw in a Full Spectrum CFL and grow on. If you have long tube fixtures rather than screw in sockets, use Full Spectrum Fluorescent Tubes. We offer tubes for 48” fixtures with T-12, T-8 and T-5 technology available. If no existing lighting setup exists, we can outfit you with fixtures and bulbs. We offer lights that require an electrician’s installation, or we can supply Pigtail Cord Sets for the DIY-ers.
Some customers who need to fully retrofit a facility use 8 mm Twin-Wall Polycarbonate Sheets to create skylights or enclose large openings on the side of pole barns. Polycarbonate is lighter than glass but far stronger, plus it offers better heat retention than traditional windows. These American-made panels come with a 10-year warranty and are meant to stand the test of time.
Many times, garages, hay mounts and older barns are not insulated and customers feel that retrofitting them with insulation is too much work. In reality, this is a simple issue to resolve. Simply pick up some 2” foam board at your local hardware store and secure it to simple stud construction. Studs can be spaced as far apart as your prefer, as they are not meant to support the structural load of the building, just to support the insulation board.
Next, intermittently run furring strips over the foam board and staple some reflective, single bubble, white poly TekFoil® Reflective Insulation to the furring strip, securing it to the foam board with an adhesive. TekFoil® works to prevent the escape of radiant heat, which is easily lost so it is important to capture and retain. Place the white poly side facing out (reflective side against the foam board), adding light reflectivity while still receiving the great features and benefits of the reflective layer.
If you have an insulated machine shop or garage, but have exposed studs or insulation material, there is no need to sheet rock; just staple up some Black/White All-Purpose Fabric. This material will provide a vapor-tight barrier between the fodder room and the remaining space. Simply staple the fabric to your studs or some furring strips. If your space has metal construction, you can use Self-Drilling Tek Screws to hold the fabric in place. Some customers like to reinforce the points of connection between the fabric and the wall with 1″ Batten Tape. This material will act like a fabric furring strip. Of course, white side facing out is recommended to allow for greater light distribution.
No Climate Controls
This hurdle is common when I meet a customer who has an existing but unused greenhouse. The first thing I advise a customer to do is to be sure that properly-sized heating and ventilation packages are in place. FarmTek is the leading manufacturer of greenhouses and high tunnels in the USA, so we have great tools and calculators to assist customers in properly sizing their needs. In addition to heaters and exhaust fans or inlet shutters, it’s also important to be sure you have circulation fans installed. Typical spacing for these units is every 20’ down either side of your greenhouse. The ideal situation is to create a race-track pattern of airflow (see diagram below). If your air is moving steadily, it cannot grab onto moisture, which will keep humidity levels low. Low humidity reduces the chances for mold to grow, so circulating fans are your best friend in a greenhouse being used for fodder production.
The last step in retrofitting your greenhouse for fodder production is the addition of an FLS Reflective Shade Panel. We encourage our customers to consider this new shade technology, which far surpasses the basic black shade, the usual go-to option for customers who are looking for a cost-effective cooling solution. While still allowing more than enough light transmission through the panel, an FLS Reflective Shade Cloth will deflect a great amount of the sun’s radiant heat energy, keeping the interior of your greenhouse cool during hot months. The opposite effect will happen in the cooler months, allowing for more heat retention within the greenhouse. In addition, FLS Reflective Shade Panels allow more than enough ambient light to penetrate your greenhouse to promote photosynthesis, which means you will not need any additional grow lights to produce fodder.
Generally speaking, if water is drinkable, it is acceptable for use with the Fodder-Pro 2.0 Feed System. However, some customers have concerns about the quality of their water supply and we offer options to ease your mind. If your water supply comes from a well, we typically recommend a basic Water Filter to ensure there are no small particles that may cause clogging over time. It is recommended to have a pH level of 6 for best results in fodder production. A simple pH test will indicate if your water’s pH levels need to be modified before you begin your fodder production.
I have successfully grown fodder in spaces ranging from open warehouses, to climate-controlled rooms, to a greenhouse already full of other hydroponic systems. With a few adaptations, the Fodder-Pro 2.0 Feed System can truly be successful anywhere. While I have explained some of the more common discussions I find myself having with new customers, I am always willing to discuss any issues you may have regarding your own Fodder-Pro 2.0 Feed System. If you have any questions or concerns about retrofitting your facility, or creating an entirely new fodder area, please contact me. I love thinking outside the box and it is a pleasure to help with anything I can!
Are you trying to grow fodder somewhere a little out of the box? Share your idea with us here!