What are the Water Needs of These Fodder Systems?

To be sustainable, an agricultural process needs to meet a number of criteria. One of these criteria  is related to water consumption.  The micro-green (fodder) production needs to be  much less consumptive of water than the traditional hay production process. There are basically three different general types of micro-green systems:

  1. Aquaponic systems – water recirculates,  is treated and conditioned by the plants and bacteria in the system, water absorbed by the plants is replaced in the system.
  2. Hydroponic flow through systems – water goes into the system and what is not absorbed by the plants is discharged from the system.
  3. Hydroponic recirculating systems – water is pumped through the system, is treated before going back into the system again, and water that is absorbed by the plants is replaced.

Watering frequency and amount of water added during each watering for micro-green systems is a science that is still being researched.  Some systems have continuous water flow and the remainder have periodic watering frequencies.  We have found that the key to good production is to make sure the seeds and growing young plants are always kept moist, but are not inundated for extended time periods by water.  We operate a recirculating aquaponic system and water each tray of growing young plants for seven (7) minutes every three hours.


In our systems we have calculated that we need to replace one gallon of water per day for each alpaca that we feed. If we were feeding cattle or horses, we would calculate that adult cattle or horses would require about 8 gallons of replacement water per animal per day. So in our case with 170 adult alpacas we are replacing about 170 gallons of water per day.

So how does that compare to the water used to grow the amount of hay in our feeding group that is being replaced by micro-greens?  Our calculation would be that it would take at least 2400 gallons of water to grow that amount of hay.  So, aquaponic micro-green systems are using 95% less water than a traditional hay growing system (WOW!!).  How sustainable and ecolonomic is that? VERY!

Finally, our observation is that our animals are drinking far less water than they did when being fed traditional hay as their entire diet.  This makes sense, as micro-greens have moisture contents of around 85% and therefore in our feeding regimen (5-6 pounds of micro-greens per adult per day) the animals are getting over 4 lb., or more than 1/2 gallon, of water per day in their feed that they would not get from hay that normally has a moisture content of about 10%. So this makes the water use by recirculating aquaponic micro-green systems even less.

I realize this is a somewhat technical discussion and you probably need more information to really understand it well.  So, that is why we are offering an extensive Sustainable Livestock Nutrition Program that is delivered on-line by videos, articles, how-to’s, and with live networking, masterminding and a hand’s on live training event at our Northern Colorado Center for Ecolonomic Excellence.  If you would like more information about this exciting education program (which includes general plans about how to build an aquaponic micro-greens system) please click here and we will get you more information.

You can also contact us at 303-495-3705 or email us at waynedorband@gmail.com.



  1. Citi says:

    Wow! What a great idea. Pls kindly make me aware.

  2. Will says:

    No more s***. All posts of this qutialy from now on


  1. Livestock Feed for the Future - Aquaponic Fodder System | Sustainable Livestock Nutrition - […] have been producing  aquaponic fodder here in Northern Colorado at the Center for Ecolonomic Excellence and feeding it to…

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes