Last week we shared some of the current experiments underway at Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture. This week we are seeing the results of the fodder production experiments, where we can turn 2 pounds of grain into about 10 pounds of animal feed in about 10 days.

Fodder System Setup at the CEA

High Andean farmers typically raise a few animals to supplement their mostly corn and potato-based diet. For this reason, CEA classes include training farmers to raise healthy animals. The CEA’s plots of alfalfa and grass have provided the primary food source for its animals. To decrease the amount of land required to raise these crops and to make more feed available, the CEA began its second experiment this month.

Staff welded together shelving units that will hold close to 1,000 trays, each fitted on metal racks designed to hold one kilogram of grain, such as corn, oats, barley, or wheat. To gain time, the agronomist places water-soaked grain in a dark, moist, and cool place. In 2-3 days (less time in summer, more in winter) grains will sprout into plants and are placed in the trays. Trays will be sprayed with a water mist up to eight times daily. Within another 7-9 days, the entire tray will be covered with a mat of roots and plants that can be removed and fed to farm animals (as can be seen above).

This food production method will make it possible for the CEA to reduce the amount of land planted with alfalfa and grass and to use those plots for other purposes.