A NEW system has been developed in Bathurst that could take the pressure off farmers in times of drought.
Destiny Ag is developing and selling hydroponic fodder-growing systems that allow graziers to feed their stock fresh fodder, regardless of temperature, soil moisture or ground cover.
The business, founded by David Cumming, was inspired to create the system after seeing a farmer whose sheep were thriving on home-grown barley sprout.
The hydroponic system that Destiny Ag is using, which the team has been refining since November, automates watering, lighting, temperature and ventilation to create a reliable way of growing feed.
Currently, there are two prototype units operating in Kelso, one that can produce up to 1500 kilograms per day and a smaller one rated at 500kg each day.
Mr Cumming said it was a six-day growth cycle to get nutritious fodder.
“It increases the protein over that growing cycle by about 30 per cent and the part we’re working out at the moment is when to best pull them out, because we want to retain as much of the energy in the grain itself,” he said.
“We’ve done a number of crops now where we’ve learnt along the way, in terms of having to make some refinements.
“So we’ve increased ventilation in the system, we’re also conscious of reducing the water usage for local farming. If we are proposing it as a strategy in the drought we want to be using as little water as possible.
“We’re using 900 litres per tonne now and we think we can take it lower than that as well.”
The system has been developed to the point where it is ready for farmers to trial.
Mr Cumming said he hoped farmers would try the fodder he has produced first, to see if their livestock like it.
“They can have some free stuff and move on to potentially buy it,” he said.
“We are encouraging people to ultimately take up the system so they can try the system on their land for a month or so.”
One local farmer, Diana Stewart, has been trialing the fodder with her sheep and goats.
She said that this method of feeding livestock is labour intensive, but it was “a great standby when you don't have anything for them to eat”.
“They seem to like it when they are hungry,” she said.
“I don’t think I could do it on my own, but with help it’s good.
“It is very labour intensive right now, but David’s looking to streamline that and when he does it will be good.”
In terms of affordability, Ms Stewart said the Destiny Ag fodder was costing her less than hay, however hay didn’t need as much labour.
Farmers are invited to contact Destiny Ag on 1800 433 784 or by visiting www.destinyag.co to inquire about the product and trial.