Aquaculture, Aquaponics, Blog, Fodder - Fish and Farm Animals, Nutrient Cycling

Store Green Manures in Silo Barrels; Farming Rye Grass for Fertilizer and Tilapia Food

Where have all the silos gone?

Silos used to dot the countryside in America. That was back in the day, when farmers appreciated the value of green manures as a of fodder for livestock. Animals get a tremendous amount of nutrients from green grasses and plant trimmings. This is particularly true when anaerobic bacteria work to decompose and ferment the greens. When plant matter decomposes in the presence of oxygen, as is common in open fields or untended composts, greenhouse gasses form and vital nutrients are lost. Nitrogen gas, hydrogen sulfide and CO2 are the consequence of not using silos to store these valuable by-products of the farm.

Tilapia are like cows.

They are vegetarians, herbivores. Contrary to conventional thinking, fish do not prefer manufactured foods. They like plants and bacteria that decompose those plants. Plus they eat algae. Duckweed is an exceptional plant that tilapia feed on as are the roots of water hyacinth and alligator weed. But to grow even water plants we must start by adding a nutrient loop and preferably with the green matter of crop trimmings. Abundantly available grasses and greens give us the feed stock for livestock and also fish and their diet of aquatic organisms.

So here’s how it works, harvest the grass, and put it into a silo. The barrels below are what we find to be most practical, unless of course you already own a silo. Barrels can be transported and in fact, when loaded with fish and animal fodder, are a commodity to farmers. Details on how to make a silo as in the images below follow this link to helpful blog.

Then store the green manure, letting it ferment.  When raising fish we take some pounds of the manure and put it into our anaerobic or aerobic digester, or the Incubator, which does both, plus clarifies and biofilters the ammonia that will be released from the submerged manures. In the right conditions, aerobic decomposers of fungi and bacteria will consume carbons and free the ammonia along with minerals, phosphates and trace elements. Ammonia itself can be used as a crop fertilizer or within an Incubator is biofiltered through nitrifying bacteria beds and reduced to nitrates which are the best form on nitrogen for plants. This fertilizer can be immediately used or dehydrated and stored for later use as a crop fertilizer, or even sold or bartered for the same purpse.

Silage is an excellent fodder for herbivore fish, like tilapia and carp.

After a few days of decomposing in the bioreactor, we feed the grasses to our tilapia. Chickens like grass as do other foul and livestock. This is a great way to sustainably raise fish food, plant fertilizers and simultaneously, sequester CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. 

About drdave

CoFounder of Algosolar, dba Bioponica. Consultant, designer, developer of Biogarden and Incubator Ecosystems for producing organic food and fish, sustainably.


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Bioponica System

20' x 4' Deep Water Troughs plus 210 Gallon Tank Below. Troughs function as clarifier, biofilter, and aerobic digester for duckweed and Deep Water Culture

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20' x 4' plant beds 210 gallon fish tank. Ebb and flow rock beds above tank

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