fbpx
Print this page
Friday, 16 March 2018 12:25

Effluent technology set to lift dairy water efficiency

Written by  Jamie Thompson
Jamie Thompson. Jamie Thompson.

Nutrient efficiency is vital to Ravensdown as a component of smarter farming -- good for the bottom line and the environment.

Water efficiency is now a catch-cry and the dairy sector is being urged to lessen its water ‘footprint’. 

Crucial to this challenge is how effluent is managed. Recycling and reusing the nutrients in dairy shed effluent is good practice, showing that dairy farmers are doing the right thing. This comes with a price tag: 70% of dairy farmers’ environmental spending goes on effluent management (see graph).

Challenge to status quo   

Well-managed effluent forms a key part of the nutrient cycle onfarm, but in spring when cows are calving and spring rains keep falling, effluent ponds can fill and the traditional and viable method of irrigating or spreading of effluent can become a headache.

This can lead to accidental breaches of discharge, resulting in potential leaching or run-off of nutrients into surface water, perhaps damage to a farmer’s reputation and the risk of a hefty fine. In a cold wet winter, spreading effluent nutrients to keep ponds under control can also increase the potential for nitrate leaching.

average spend If farmers are also looking to use feed pads more in the winter to avoid pugging, as a way to mitigate potential phosphate run-off, then effluent capture, treatment and reuse becomes even more important. 

Recycling and reusing water 

There are a few reasons why the ponds are at risk of filling up too fast – reaching the danger zone. Without tackling the root cause, the temptation can be simply to build a bigger pond with all the costs and risks entailed.   

Now a new generation of storage ponds is on its way which, with reporting, management and decision support technology, a farm would be able to easily track, show and improve its nutrient efficiency and water efficiency–  a win-win for all. 

• Jamie Thompson is a Ravensdown effluent technology manager. This article first appeared in Ground Effect autumn issue.

More like this

Eyes open to different ways of farm ownership

Farmer Jane Smith was “blown away” by the group dynamic and drive when she and husband Blair hosted the North Otago-based Growth and Development in Farming Action Group at Newhaven Farms in Oamaru.

A rock to both the NZ and Moroccan economies

New Zealand farmers probably do not realise the contribution they are making to the economic and community life of people in Southern Morocco, says Hajbouha Zoubeir, president, Phosboucraa Foundation.

Getting smarter at growing grass

In his third season, sharemilker and Ravensdown shareholder James Barbour takes us through the farm’s approach to nutrient management.

Featured

 

Limited feed puts ewes at risk

Severe feed shortages in parts of the country mean many ewes are on a nutritional knife-edge heading into lambing and could be at risk of developing metabolic disorders.

Jack’s unique solution

Jason Jack was left with severe spinal injuries after a wakeboarding accident when he was 29, but that hasn’t stopped him getting out and about in difficult environments.

National

$10 payout!

A small but select group of Fonterra farmers are on the cusp of setting a new milk payout record.

The migrant workers dilemma

Dairy farmers want more Kiwi workers, but they also want relaxed immigration restrictions. So, what's the problem?

Producing milk, the Miraka way

The goal of Māori-owned dairy company Miraka, near Taupo, is to become the most sustainable dairy company in the world.

Machinery & Products

Landpower invests in cow central

One of Australasia’s largest, privately-owned farm machinery distributors, Landpower is building a new $10 million complex adjacent to Hamilton Airport.

Maize moisture in a moment

With forage maize playing such an important part of the New Zealand fodder supply chain, a useful hand-held moisture measuring…