Demand grows for effluent and environmental services

Article Details

3 Jun, 2019

New Zealand

Consumer demand and regional council compliance rules is fuelling the growth of effluent and environmental solutions.

Consumer demand on dairy products and regional council compliance rules is fuelling the growth of effluent and environmental solutions.

New technology is helping savvy dairy farmers meet some of those challenges but others are reluctant to adopt new practices.

It’s a challenge Rob Johnson and the team from Waikato Milking Systems are ready to meet, when they speak with farmers looking for answers at this year’s Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

“Some farmers understand technology provides them with information which can help them make important decisions.

“But there are a lot of choices out there and it can be confusing when it comes to selecting the right dairy effluent management system.”

Johnson started work as business development manager for Hi-Tech Enviro Solutions, after the Morrinsville firm was bought by Waikato Milking Systems in 2015.

Hi-Tech was fully integrated into the company on June 1 and its Effluent and Environmental solutions stand as a core product of the business. Johnson has been leading the transition.

Moving into effluent management was a natural extension outside the dairy shed, enabling the company to provide farmers with access to high quality effluent advice and products.

The transition will be evident at the Waikato Milking Systems site at Fieldays this year.

Johnson agreed compliance rules were fuelling demand for effluent management solutions.

Consumers of dairy products also wanted assurance the land and animals were being looked after on the farm, he said.

An educational approach, rather than being heavy handed towards farmers, was the key to meeting those challenges.

“You look at the good work from regional councils, industry leaders like Dairy NZ and accredited designers like us, who are educating people around the nutrient value and benefit of effluent and how to manage it correctly.”

Johnson said learning about careful use and management of effluent can increase pasture production and also reduce the amount of chemical fertiliser needed on the land.

“Regional councils are focused on ensuring each farm has a plan to effectively manage effluent and mitigate the risk of effluent escaping and impacting on the environment.

“It may include fail-safe systems to detect burst irrigation pipes or even measures to trace where and when effluent is being applied.

“We have the solutions that can help take care of those decisions on behalf of the farmer.”

One of the current “pressure points” around dairy effluent management in the Waikato is storage.

Farmers are double checking  to make sure their current storage is enough to manage the amount of effluent their cows are producing.

They also want to make sure their storage meets compliance rules.

Upgrading or retrofitting existing dairies with new effluent solutions will need careful planning.

“There are many factors to consider but the most crucial is how the landscape and climate affects effluent management.

“Good starting point is the types of soils on the farm, this provides you with an understanding of the soil moisture deficits, soil drainage characteristics and infiltration rates along with the type of land contours on farm.”

“As you can see there’s not, one size fits all, it’s different for each property.”

Johnson expects effluent storage to be among the hot topics at Fieldays this year but is looking forward to providing some options.

“I enjoy talking to farmers and coming back with solutions for them, providing some good advice and seeing them go ahead with it, that’s the best part of the job.”