Effluent system upgrades surge

Hot and dry conditions have helped Western Dairy’s effluent management project, DairyCare, to pick up speed with several system upgrades underway at farms across the South West region.

Much of the activity consists of construction of new or improved effluent storage ponds and the installation of application systems.

Western Dairy DairyCare project manager Dan Parnell said the project aimed to reduce nutrient runoff from dairy sheds by supporting farmers to improve dairy effluent management.

Mr Parnell said the pond designs were mostly two-pond systems with solids treatment in the first pond and liquid effluent storage in the second pond.

“Having two ponds improves the quality of the effluent so that it’s easier to either recycle for yard wash or easier to handle through irrigation systems. Having a smaller primary solids pond also makes it easier to remove the sludge which will build up over time,” he explained.

Application systems vary depending on the farm and include travelling irrigators, slurry tankers, pods, centre pivot application and application-to-surface irrigation. 

Mr Parnell said a particular project focus was to apply effluent to a sufficient area to avoid excessive nutrient applications and to target paddocks where forage or summer crops were grown which could utilise the nutrients best.

The DairyCare project is part of the Regional Estuaries Initiative and funded by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Revitalising Geographe Waterways project, which is reducing nutrient loss from dairy farms and improving the water quality of regional estuaries.

With additional support from GeoCatch and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Dairy is on track to complete 60 dairy effluent system reviews of dairy farms across the South West by 2020.

DairyCare is also involved in a joint project with DWER and Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy at Scott River that is trialling the Z-filter mechanical solids separation system. 

Mr Parnell said the technology had been used successfully in the pig industry and could be a good fit for high rainfall areas that do not have the advantage of gravity to manage effluent. 

A field day is planned for the Scott River site in early 2020 with more details to be announced.

For further information about DairyCare, contact dan.parnell@westerndairy.com.au or 0467 556 542.

Hayes family farm

Above: A synthetic-lined pond under construction at Malcolm Hayes’ Cookernup farm

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