Effluent System Management

Ongoing maintenance of effluent systems is critical to avoiding system failures and damage to the local environment. A management plan that improves effluent system operations can boost farm and nutrient management. Get started with the information and resources below. 

Effluent management plans

Effluent management plans can ensure effluent systems meet industry standards and best practice, as well as detail how nutrients from effluent systems are being reused. A key focus is how a dairy farm operates effluent systems to minimise its environmental impact. Engage a suitably qualified specialist to design an effluent management plan.

Storage management:

  • Ensure the required effluent storage capacity is adequate to store the volume of effluent from your enterprise and has been calculated by a suitably qualified specialist or practitioner.
  • ‘Ready to go, keep it low’ is a good motto for effluent. Keep the effluent pond as empty as possible (especially coming into winter) so nutrients are out on the paddock growing grass and there is maximum storage capacity for winter storage and in the event of breakdowns.
  • Ensure all effluent storage facilities are sealed or lined. Clay for lining ponds requires geotechnical testing to ensure it meets permeability requirements. When clay is unavailable or unsuitable, an artificial liner may be required to protect groundwater.
  • Remove accumulating sludge and solids on a regular basis to avoid blockages when irrigating and to maintain long-term storage capacity.
  • Monitor and repair any damaged pond walls to prevent seepage and overflows.
  • Ensure appropriate fencing and signage around all effluent storages.

Solids and stockpile management:

  • Direct drainage from dairy sheds, feedpads and yards to a central location to collect and manage solids.
  • Utilise a solids separation system that matches the management preferences, proposed reuse system, and is effective for the volume of effluent being generated.
  • Regularly clean solids traps, weeping walls, filters and screens associated with solid and liquid separation to ensure continual flow and prevent overflows and blockages.
  • Locate stockpiles on an impermeable surface to prevent leaching into ground water.
  • Establish a stockpile area that enables drainage from the drying stockpile to be contained and directed back into the effluent system.
  • Stockpile solids until dry enough for handling and spreading.

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