Adverse Events: Milk Disposal

You may be in a position where your milk may need to be disposed of on your farm. Under no circumstances should milk reach waterways.

If you irrigate your effluent to land continue to add your milk to the effluent system and apply to land as you would with your effluent.

  • Dilute the milk with at least the same volume of water (i.e. 1 : 1 dilution) before applying it directly to land
  • Dilutions up to 10 : 1 water to milk should be considered to reduce the possibility of odour problems and pasture damage
  • Do not apply more than 50,000 litres of the diluted milk per hectare to pasture (i.e. 5 litres per square metre of land).Use as much land area as practically possible. If possible use land that can be worked following application
  • Irrigate onto recently grazed pasture and following irrigation, flush with fresh water to rinse milk residues from foliage.

Do not apply milk to:

  • Land within 20m of a drain or waterway
  • Land close to public areas or neighbours where odour problems may arise
  • Paddocks which are likely to flood, have steep slopes, are pipe drained or mole ploughed.

If you only have a 2-pond oxidation effluent system it can cope with milk from four consecutive milkings. After this, another option should be used, as additional milk will cause rapid deterioration in the quality of the discharge.

Here are the following recommended disposal options:

  • Using a slurry tanker spread the milk onto a paddock as if it was liquid fertiliser
  • Set aside a paddock you intend to cultivate for a crop – e.g. Maize, and spread the milk onto the paddock. Take precautions to avoid runoff into waterways e.g. choosing a paddock that is flat, away from waterways, has a wide (20m) grassed margin between the application area and any drainage and streams
  • If these options are not available to you, dig a ditch, preferably in an area where the water table is not high, and empty the milk into the ditch. Allow the milk to soak into the soil and cover the ditch with soil at a later date to avoid odour issues.

Please note in Northland your regional council does not recommend you discharge any milk into your oxidation ponds. They would prefer that where possible you apply to land and if this is not possible you dig an appropriate ditch as described above.

If you need help, contact your dairy company, the regional council or DairyNZ for advice.

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