Production of animal feed in vertical farms and greenhouses.
In addition to the three existing methods of production of feed for dairy cattle (roughage, concentrates and residual and by-products), a fourth is emerging: the production of specific feed components in protected cultivation. In organic chicken farming, barley sprouts have been used as a feed component for some time, which are produced in a simple greenhouse. More recently, this form of animal feed production has accelerated with the development of vertical farms in which vegetable production takes place in completely closed systems using LED lamps. In countries with extreme production conditions, such as Australia, these vertical farms are now also used for the production of animal feed components.
This new method of feed production makes it possible to take major steps forward in the resource use efficiency of feed production and to experiment and innovate in a much more refined way in the composition of feed. In the Netherlands, too, there has recently been increasing attention to the production of animal feed components in greenhouses. Here too, the first focus is on the production of barley and wheat germ in a vertical farm.
The innovation process that is being set up will also look at varieties other than barley and wheat. In addition to other crops in the vertical farm (lucerne, duckweed), an inventory will also be made of residual and by-products from other vegetable crops in addition to the existing practice whereby residual products from vegetable processing at VanDijck Groenteproducties, a nearby producer of vegetables are already fed to Vreba Melkvee. Interesting options are by-products of medicinal Cannabis cultivation and the flow of rejected products from large-scale vegetable production under glass.
A third line is research into specific ingredients, for example to reduce the production of methane by adding certain feed components. This can also be used if the milk becomes a raw material for specific ingredients such as lactoferrin.