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Studies on Influence of Soaking, Germination Time and Seed Rate on Biomass Yield of Fodder Maize (Zea mays L.) Cultivated Through Fabricated Hydroponic Fodder Production Unit

Gunasekaran Shanmugam Valli Chinnamani Karunakaran Raman Gopi Hariharan P. Tensingh Gnanaraj V. M. Sankaran
Vol 8(1), 190-194
DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.5455/ijlr.20170925051650

A locally fabricated hydroponic unit, with shade net walls, metal sheet as roof and having manual water sprinkling system was utilised. A 2 x 3 factorial design in five replicates was adopted to assess the influence of soaking (8 or 12 hours) and germination time (24 or 30 or 36 hours) of maize seeds (Zea mays L.) on biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize. Though, no significant variation (P < 0.05) was observed on the biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize irrespective of the soaking and germination times numerically higher biomass yield at 12 hours of soaking and 24 hours of germination was observed. A study to determine the influence of seed rate (100, 150, 200 250 and 300 g / sq.ft) on biomass yield of hydroponic fodder on 9th day of growth revealed, highest biomass yield (4.50 ± 0.57kg/ kg of seed) at a seed rate of 250 (g/sq.ft).


Keywords : Germination Time Hydroponic Fodder (Zea mays L.) Soaking Time Seed Rate

Introduction

Growing of fodder crops by conventional means in soil requires large land area, huge man power and large quantity of water. Hence, allocation of land and resources for fodder production is minimal. This leads to deficit in green fodder in India to around 24.81 % (Vision 2030). Alternative ways to ensure fodder production for feeding livestock is an urgent priority. One of the technologies for adoption is hydroponic fodder production. The term Hydroponic was derived from the Greek word ‘hydro’ meaning water and ‘ponos’ meaning labour. This system helps to overcome the challenges on fodder availability due to climatic change and also helps fodder production systems in management and efficient utilization of natural resources (Butler et al., 2006). Hydroponics technology is coming up as an alternative to conventional method of fodder cultivation to produce fodder for dairy animals (Naik et al., 2015). However, only few studies are available on the influence of, soaking and germination time and seed rate for hydroponic fodder maize production. Therefore, a study was designed to determine the impact of seed rate duration of soaking and germination time on the biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize in a locally fabricated hydroponic fodder production unit.

Review of Literature

Green fodder is an essential component of the dairy ration, which influences their productive and reproductive performance. Therefore, for a sustainable dairy farming, quality green fodder should be fed on a regular basis to dairy animals (Naik et al., 2012). Owing to unavailability of green fodder, supplementation of hydroponics sprouts in the ration of dairy animals is coming up as a viable alternate technology for the livestock farmers (Naik et al., 2015). Producing hydroponic fodder by sprouting process involves soaking the grain in water, followed by draining and placing it in trays for fodder growth usually for 8 to 10 days. Sprouts are good source of enzymes, antioxidants and chlorophyll, which improves the performance of the livestock Sneath and Mclntosh (2003). Hydroponics maize fodder was produced in a hydroponics chamber (greenhouse) measuring about 25 ft × 10 ft × 10 ft with a daily production potential of 600 kg fresh hydroponics maize fodder and equipped with automatic sprayer irrigation of tap water (Naik et al., 2016). During germination, vitamin contents especially B -vitamins, vitamin E and β-carotene (Vitamin-A precursor) are increased many fold.

The forage seeds alfalfa (Medicago sativa), barley (Hordeum vulgare), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) were washed well from residues of bleach and resoaked in tap water overnight (about 12 hours) for green fodder production under hydroponic technique (Ghazi N. Al-Karaki, 2011).  Weldegerima (2015) reported that African tall Maize variety (Zea mays L.) had to be soaked for 12 hours in tap water and required 24-36 hours of germination in gunny bag and the sprouted seeds had to be spread on the hydroponic tray at a rate of 500 grams per 2 square feet tray. Clean seeds of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) were washed and soaked in tap water for 12 hours, and then put in gunny bag for 24-36 hours till root emerged. Thereafter, the sprouted seeds were spread on the hydroponic tray at a rate of 350 gram per tray (Gebremedhin, 2015).

Materials and Methods

Hydroponic fodder maize (Zea mays L.) was produced in a locally fabricated hydroponic unit having an area of 100 square feet, with shade net walls and metal sheet as roof. Irrigation to the fodder was done by manual spraying at 3 hourly intervals during day time. Relative humidity and temperature were recorded using thermo hygrometer.

Experiment 1: Influence of Soaking and Germination Time

A 2 x 3 factorial design in five replicates was adopted to assess the influence of soaking (8 or 12 hours) and germination time (24 or 30 or 36 hours) of maize seeds on biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize. Maize seeds were soaked in water for either 8 or 12 hours and the soaked seeds were allowed to germinate in a gunny bags respectively for 24 or 30 or 36 hours before being loaded onto plastic trays for fodder production in the fabricated hydroponic unit.

Experiment 2: Influence of Seed Rate

The second experiment carried out in six replication, was to study the influence of seed rate (100, 150, 200 250 and 300 g / sq.ft) of maize seed on biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize on 9th day of growth.

Statistical Analysis

Data collected were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) using IBM SPSS statistics 20.

Results and Discussion

During the experimental period the maximum and minimum temperature (C°) was 32.03±0.10 and 18.67 ± 0.11 respectively and the maximum and minimum relative humidity (%) was 71.33±0.78 and 33.00 ± 0.64 respectively in and around the fabricated hydroponic unit. However, Weldegerima (2015) maintained a lower temperature range of 22 – 27°C and similar relative humidity of 70 – 80% inside a green house with micro sprinklers for cultivation of hydroponic fodder maize.

Experiment 1: Influence of Soaking and Germination Time

The results of the effect of soaking time (hrs) and germination time (hrs) of maize seeds on the biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize is presented in Table 1. No significant variation (P < 0.05) was observed on the biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize irrespective of the soaking and germination times adopted. However, numerically higher biomass yield at 12 hours of soaking and 24 hours of germination was observed.  Hence, these time intervals were used for the next experiment.

Table 1: Effect of soaking time (hrs) and germination time (hrs) of maize seeds on the biomass yield (Mean ± SE) of hydroponic fodder maize

Soaking  time of maize 8 hrs 12 hrs
Germination time  of maize 24 hrs 30 hrs 36 hrs 24 hrs 30 hrs 36 hrs
Biomass yield  (kg/ kg of seed) 3.89±0.13 3.87±0.17 3.92±0.15 4.14±0.05 4.13±0.03 4.14±0.03

NS – Non significant

Biomass yield of 8 Kg hydroponic maize fodder (African tall Maize variety) / Kg seed was reported by Weldegerima (2015) when 500 grams of seeds were soaked for 12 hours in tap water and germinated for 24-36 hours in gunny bags and spread to grow in trays of 2 square feet. Naik (2012) reported 4 hours soaking of maize seeds in water and germinating seeds in a moist gunny bag for 1-2 days. Gebremedhin (2015) reported soaking time of 12 hours and germination time of 24 – 36 hours for barley under hydroponic mode.

Experiment 2: Influence of Seed Rate

The effect of seed rate (grams) of maize seeds on the biomass yield of hydroponic fodder maize is presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Effect of seed rate (grams) of maize seeds on the (Mean ± SE) biomass yield hydroponic fodder maize

Seed Rate (g/sq. ft) Biomass Yield (kg/ kg of Seed)
100 3.60a ± 0.05
150 3.74ab ± 0.02
200 3.69ab ± 0.02
250 4.50c ± 0.57
300 4.12bc ± 0.53
350 3.90ab± 0.48

Significantly (P<0.05) lowest biomass yield (3.60 ± 0.05kg/ kg of seed) was observed at a seed rate of 100 (g/sq. ft) and significantly (P<0.05) highest biomass yield (4.50 ± 0.57kg/ kg of seed) was observed at a seed rate of 250 (g/sq. ft) equivalent to 2.77 kg / m2.  When seed rate was increased beyond 250 (g/sq. ft) a significant (P<0.05) decline in biomass yield was observed. The decline observed in biomass yield on decreased seed rate could be attributed to the altered microenvironment. Whereas, the decline observed in biomass yield due to the increased seed rate, could be attributed to competition between individual fodder sprouts for growth, moreover, increase in seed rate of maize seeds results in more chance of microbial contamination in the root mat, which affects the growth of the fodder (Naik et al., 2013).

Conclusion

Thus from the study it can be concluded that soaking and germination time was optimized for fodder maize at 12 hours and 24 hours respectively based on the fodder biomass yield.  Among the different treatments 250 g / sq. feet seed rate had better biomass yield and was optimized for hydroponic fodder maize production.

References

  1. Al-Karaki GN. 2011. “Utilization of treated wastewater for green forage production in a hydroponic system,”Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, Vol. 23, pp. 80 –94.
  2. Butler J.D. and Oebker NF. 2006. Hydroponics as a Hobby— Growing Plants Without Soil‖. Circular 844. Information Office, College of Agriculture, University of Illinois, Urbana.
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  8. Naik PK, Dhawaskar BD, Fatarpekar DD, Chakurkar EB and Swain BK, 2016. Nutrient changes with the growth of hydroponics cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) sprouts. Indian Journal of Animal Nutrition 33: 357-359
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