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Food and Agriculture Institute

Hydroponic Fodder

Hydroponic fodder and greenhouse gas emissions: A potential avenue for climate mitigation strategy and policy development


This research explores the potential hydroponic systems have for contributing to climate mitigation in fodder agriculture. Using British Columbia (BC) and Alberta as case studies, the study compares greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon sequestration potential of hydroponically grown sprouted barley fodder to conventional barley grain fodder.

GHG emissions were examined through scenarios that assumed Alberta to be the main barley producer, while exploring different situations of BC and Alberta as consumers, distributed/centralized hydroponic systems, and renewable/nonrenewable energy. Carbon sequestration opportunities were examined through scenarios that explored the land sparing potential of transitioning from conventional to hydroponic barley and shifts from tillage to no-tillage practices. Sensitivity analyses were done to examine how changes in hydroponic seed-to-fodder output and energy consumption affect the systems’ climate mitigation potential.

The results indicated that incorporating hydroponic systems into barley production has the potential to reduce GHG emissions, given seed-to-fodder output and energy consumption are maintained at certain levels and the systems are powered by renewable energy. Results also showed that hydroponic farming can provide greater carbon sequestration opportunities than simply shifting to no-tillage farming. The research indicates that hydroponic fodder farming could contribute to climate mitigation objectives if complemented with effective energy and land use policies.

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Publications

Newell, R., Newman, L., Dickson, M., Vanderkooi, B., Fernback, T., & White, C. (2021) Hydroponic fodder and greenhouse gas emissions: A potential avenue for climate mitigation strategy and policy development. FACETS, 6(1), 334-357. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2020-0066

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