Research & Development
Our R&D technology innovations are developed either through our own general experimentation and learning and/or indirectly on the back of research undertaken. These technologies induce changes in resource use and the development of new outputs. These research and development initiatives to improve all aspects of agricultural performance will contribute towards integration of agricultural activities with new emerging and advanced technologies that will bring about holistic approach in assessing production efficiency.
R&D activities include:
Waste to Energy
VeggFarming R&D will observe general and yet critical elements during the innovation process such as:
Education or knowledge generation through basic and strategic research and development of the solutions to identified problems
Translation of acquired knowledge into real products, processes and services through strategic, applied, and adaptive research.
In addition, VeggFarming R&D will forge linkages with institutions and council of sciences where postgraduate students that can do further in the above-mentioned fields. The aim is to equip more professionals in the field through human capital development to produce local innovations. The innovations created will be integrated into the agricultural value chain to assess the social and economic impacts and growth.
VeggFarming's Research and Development is lead by Dr. Bulelwa Ntsendwana. The initial focus will be on the further development and commercialisation of aerobic digestion technologies to make bio-active fertilizers from chicken manure. These technologies make 'Poultryponics' (hydroponics through collaboration with poultry farming) possible.
From: Food for Mzanzi
Hydroponics involves growing plants without soil. The roots are held in a moist environment either anchored in an inert material (e.g. washed gravel, perlite, Rockwool™) or enclosed in a pipe or container that contains some water and a high level of moisture in the air. Because there are no nutrients in the root zone, it will be clean (free of disease), and nutrients can be added in a very controlled way. Hydroponics is a technologically advanced way of growing plants. It offers you an opportunity to control things such as the nutrients, the pH (acidity), water and air levels, and disease; more than what would ever be possible with soil.
Poultryponics utilizes chicken manure's nutrients for the plants, which are dissolved in the irrigation water.
In turn, the birds are partly fed fodder and vegetable waste from the hydroponic greenhouse production, reducing the costs of feeding them and giving them added nutrients.
How it works.
The pullets and hens from the rearing and layer and houses produce manure which will be processed in an ‘Aerobic Bio-digester’.
An Aerobic Bio-Digester system utilizes organic waste, particularly animal waste to produce fertilizer.
A bio-digester consists of a container equipped with an agitator and an oxygen supplier; in which excreta, diluted in water - is stirred continuously and is thus fermented by micro-organisms present in the waste. The fermentation process is aerobic, i.e., it takes place with oxygen. It is odourless.
The processed manure becomes an organic, pathogen-free (due to heating) - liquid fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium - if all strict methods are adhered to.
The produced liquid fertilizer is firstly utilized internally, to grow vegetables in our own greenhouse operations. Secondly, it is sold in either bulk - or retail packages.
Access liquid fertilizer will be fed as the main medium to an Anaerobic Bio-Digester, which produces methane, better known as biogas. This biogas in turn will be fed to a converted generator which will run on biogas; providing the energy needs of the Veggspo/ VeggCademy and of future VeggFarmers' own farming operation.
The proposed to be constructed device; which will produce Veggspo's bio-dynamic fertilizer and electricity; is called a 'Biodynamic Veggester'.
- Supplementing feed for the birds.
Poultry feed is expensive, making hydroponically grown fodder a choice to curb feed costs for poultry producers. Feeding fodder to layers will significantly reduce feed costs and improve the quality of poultry products.
Poultry thrives on fresh vegetation. Feeding the birds fodder in combination with layer and growing mash will result in higher profitability across the farm, from reduced out-of-pocket feed costs to increased cash flow from products sold as grass-fed or organic. The nutritional composition of fodder in combination with added vitamins, minerals, and herbs makes it a good supplement for poultry and will improve their overall health and performance.
Incorporating fodder into poultry diets will result in these benefits:
Better quality eggs with deeper yolk color
Enhanced egg taste
Reduced sticky droppings
Improved health and energy level.
-Vegetable nutrient supply
Hydroponically produced vegetables are of high quality and vitamin content and need little washing.
Soil preparation, plowing, and weeding are eliminated.
It is possible to produce very high yields of vegetables in a small area because an environment optimal for plant growth is created. All the nutrients and water that the plants need are available at all times.
One does not need good soil to grow vegetables; clean water and good nutrients will do.
Water is used efficiently.
Waste of unused nutrients is greatly reduced.
Bio-fertilizers restore normal fertility to the soil and make it biologically alive. They boost the amount of organic matter and improve soil texture and structure.
The enhanced soil holds water better than before. Bio-fertilizers add valuable nutrients to the soil, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, proteins, and vitamins.
-Stable, efficient, environmentally sustainable energy supply
Through our own produced energy source, in the form of manure, Veggspo's and future VeggFarmers can fulfill their energy needs, if the manure is transformed into biogas- and subsequently into electricity.