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Designing or Upgrading Effluent Systems

When making the decision to install or upgrade a farm dairy effluent system it's important to ask the right questions, gather information and take professional advice.

You want the system to work well for many milking seasons to come so it's important to consider the following:

  • Find the right person for the job
  • Establish your system requirements
  • Make sure future plans are taken into account

Planning the right system

Planning the right system for your farm includes diagrams of 10 system diagrams and describes where each is best suited. Below are three examples from this resource...

Travelling irrigator

This system is the traditional design with a stormwater diversion in place at the yard. The effluent flows from the yard through a stone trap to a storage facility either via gravity feed or pump. It is then irrigated to land using a travelling irrigator.

Travelling irrigator

Best suited for

Farms - With no particular landscape /climate / soil risk factors
Soils - Freely drained soils
Slope - Flat ground to gently sloping
Labour - Moderate labour input
Capital investment - Low to moderate (storage additional)
Other - Ideal for regular shaped paddocks

Landscape and rainfall

One of the most crucial aspects to consider is how landscape and climate affect effluent management. The main factors which play a role in the success of effluent application are:

  • The soil drainage characteristics
  • Landscape contour
  • Rainfall and soil moisture deficits

See How landscape and climate affect effluent management for more information.

Soil assessment

Management practices need to be matched to soil and landscape risk in order to prevent loss of effluent into the surrounding environment.

Soils across New Zealand have been classified into high and low soil risk categories for farm dairy effluent application.

The Pocket guide to determine soil risk for FDE application will take you step by step through the process of working out the soil risk for a farm.

Effluent technology and tools

New technology allows for the development of tools and programs to help with effluent, water, and nutrient management decisions on farm. Many expensive regional council fines can be avoided if a fail-safe device is installed on their irrigator. For a brief summary of some options see Effluent technology and fail-safe tools which covers:

  • Software and web applications
  • Smart phones
  • Soil Moisture Monitoring
  • Pumps
  • Pond or sump level alarms
  • Timers
  • Applicator devices

There are several companies developing dairy effluent treatment systems that they believe will offer options for farmers, but these need to be carefully evaluated.

The Dairy Effluent Treatment Systems technical note provides a summary of relevant technical information as well as regulatory requirements that all parties need to consider before embarking on such a system.

Energy Capture Systems from Dairy Effluent

Recently there has been interest in biogas capture from dairy effluent and converting to electricity for use on farm and/or selling to the grid. The Energy Capture Systems from Dairy Effluent technical note gives a brief overview of energy capture systems (both anaerobic digestion and biogas) from dairy effluent.

It has been developed for farmers and for companies looking to offer this technology to dairy farmers with assistance from experts around New Zealand. This technical note is essential reading before considering installing such as system on your farm.

Thinking of using recycled dairy effluent water for washdown?

It’s often a good idea, although there are strict food safety regulations that you need to understand and manage to prevent any possible risks to food safety. See Using Recycled Farm Dairy Effluent Water for Yard Wash-Down for guidelines.

Just upgrading one part of your system?

Find design, management and safety information about the following effluent system components...

Effluent stone traps
Effluent solids separation (mechanical systems)
Effluent solids separation (passive systems)

For more in-depth information on solids separation systems see Part 2 in IPENZ Practice Note 27 - Dairy Farm Infrastructure.

Technical Resources

All effluent systems designed for land application must be done in accordance with the Farm Dairy Effluent Design Standards and Design Code of Practice.

These resources contain all the technical specifications for a land application system. They are designed for companies designing effluent systems and for farmers who are technically savvy.

Do it once and do it right with an accredited system design company!

Companies have been assessed for their competency and skills in:

• Regulation and legislation
• Soils and climate considerations
• Effluent block allocation
• Estimating pond storage volume
• Integrated management systems
• Hydraulic design of irrigation systems.

Find a local accredited company:

Does your effluent system tick all the boxes? Find out with the Dairy Effluent Warrant of Fitness.

Farm Dairy Effluent Systems

Farm Dairy Effluent Systems - Planning the right system for your farm

This booklet helps you ask the right questions to get most appropriate farm dairy effluent system installed.

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