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Michael Prestidge | Nevada Effluent Management Specialist

Managing Feed Pad Effluent: A Cost Effective & Futureproof Solution

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Managing Feed Pad Effluent: A Cost Effective & Futureproof Solution

 

With many councils tightening rules around the collection and storage of feed or stand-off pad effluent, a lot of farmers are needing to adjust their effluent management systems to account for the increased effluent volume needing to be stored, higher nutrient volumes, and higher solids content. The good news is, not only is there a cost effective, futureproof solution, but it can also provide a solution to another problem…

What are the rules?

Rules around feed pads/lots or stand-off pads will differ between councils, but in essence, there is a requirement that their design and infrastructure must include the effective collection and disposal of effluent from not only the feed pad itself, but the entry/exit/transit races and silage/supplementary feed storage bunkers.

How does this affect effluent management?

Increased Storage Needs

For a lot of farmers this may mean storing higher volumes of effluent, which can lead to needing more storage to meet council requirements.

Higher Solids Content

Effluent from feed pads often results in higher solids content, which may affect the way you manage the effluent content.

More Nutrients

With more effluent comes more nutrients. This is a good thing, meaning you can cut back on synthetic fertilisers. Although it may mean the effluent needs to be spread further so not to oversaturate pasture.

 

Feed pad effluent management
Why is this a good thing?

Sometimes change can be a good thing, and in this case there are some very good positives to storing more effluent:

  1. Cut back on synthetic fertilisers – with more nutrients there’s less need to buy in synthetic fertilisers.
  2. More coverage – there will be more effluent to be able to cover more paddocks.
  3. Irrigation – effluent can be used for irrigation during dry spells.
Managing effluent from feed pads
What’s the best solution?

Storage

Lined effluent ponds are still by far the most economical option for storage. If your current storage is already at capacity, increasing the size of your pond, or adding another pond is likely to still be the most economical option, and is also the best way to futureproof your farm.

Covering feed pads is sometimes recommended to prevent additional rainwater entering storage and increasing capacity requirements. While this is an option, it’s an investment that is unlikely to provide much return. Investing in larger storage capacity will provide greater return as the additional rainwater helps to dilute solids as well as providing an irrigation option over dry periods.

Processing Additional Solids & Nutrients

To effectively manage a higher concentration of solids and nutrients a good pond stirrer is essential. Without stirring the solids will accumulate at the top and bottom of your storage pond, meaning nutrients are wasted, and storage capacity is compromised. Additionally creating a homogenous mix is important both for nutrient dispersion and reducing the workload on your pump.

Separating solids either through a mechanical process or weeping wall can be an option, however this adds to the capital cost considerably without adding any real value to the effluent. It also adds to the operating expense by creating a second product to manage.

With highly efficient PTO or electric pond stirrers, and pumps and irrigators that handle thicker slurries available, mixing is recommended over separation where possible.

Spreading/Disposal

Increased effluent, and therefore nutrient content may provide the opportunity and requirement to spread over more pasture. If you currently rely on an underground system with travelling irrigators, you may consider the addition of a slurry tanker for easy spreading over paddocks unreached by the irrigators. Alternatively, in areas where there may be a requirement to reduce effluent pond levels fast, a RainWave™ drag hose system could be the ideal and is also very cost effective.    

Nevada RainWave Drag Hose System

We chose a good, flexible system that helps with labour, and we’re really happy. We’re really proud of it.

Bryce Hunger, Taranaki Dairy Farmer

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