Dairy effluent can be a valuable resource for dairy farmers to put nutrients back into soil but effluent management is an important part of any dairy farm business. Aside from compliance with regulatory and processor quality assurance requirements, good effluent management has a number of benefits both on and off the farm including:
- Productivity gains from pasture/crop responses
- Saving money on bought-in fertiliser
- Soil conditioning properties from the organic matter (improved soil moisture and nutrient-holding-capacity).
The Fert$mart Dairy Soils and Fertiliser Manual has a whole chapter devoted to making the best use of nutrient in effluent and manure.
Dairy Australia has produced a series of short video clips explaining some key aspects of effluent management. Each video clip has an accompanying printable fact sheet summarising the video topic, with references for further reading or information on the topic.
Victorian dairy farmers can access more information of effluent systems at the following links:
- Management of dairy effluent – DairyGains Victorian guidelines
- Managing effluent – Agriculture Victoria
Resources for other states
- Effluent management – Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority
- Tasmanian effluent advice, services and contacts – DairyTas
New South Wales
- Environmental management guidelines for the dairy industry – New South Wales Department of Primary Industries
The design of a dairy effluent system is complex. It is recommended farmers looking to set up an effluent system get input from service providers that have completed relevant training in this area, as the costs of getting it wrong can be substantial.
Delivered in partnership with Dairy Australia, Agriculture Victoria maintains a list of service providers from across Australia that have successfully completed the nationally recognised ‘Design Livestock Effluent Systems’ course (unit AHCLSK506). These service providers have achieved a level of competence based on successfully completing all course and assessment requirements in areas such as:
- Understanding of industry guidelines and design tools
- Soils and climatic considerations
- Auditing wastewater generation
- Recommending appropriate pond storage volumes
- Estimation of nutrient reuse areas required for distribution systems.
Good design is important but it is only half the battle. How you well a dairy farmers maintains and operates the system they have is the mainstay of good effluent management.