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Damain & Jane Roper, Dairy Farmers - South Taranaki

Damian & Jane Increased Milk Production By 27%

Damian & Jane Increased Milk Production By 27%


If you’re looking for some dairy farming inspiration, it can easily be found on Damian and Jane Roper’s dairy farm just outside of Patea, South Taranaki. 

To say Damian and Jane have a well-planned farming operation would be an understatement – it’s much more than that.  Each and every aspect of this farm has been carefully thought out to ensure maximum efficiency, environmental sustainability and use of resources – all of which has lead to a 27% increase in milk production!


Damian & Jane Roper - Effluent Management System

Back in 2015 Damian and Jane approached Nevada to help design a future-proofed effluent system that was council compliant, environmentally sound, and had scope for future expansion.  They invested in a large clay pond for storing effluent from the feed pad and shed yard.  A Nevada electric stirrer keeps the slurry well mixed, and a DODA 20hp Centrifugal effluent pump which floats on a Nevada 9 metre PondBoom™ pumps out to travelling irrigators coving about 40% of the farm. 

‘Our synthetic ferts have dropped by 40%, and we haven’t had any nitrogen or phosphate on the effluent block in 6 years – the levels have stayed static.’

As part of their water management, Damian and Jane have since lined the pond with a HDPE liner.  Although the pond is made of good impacted clay, lining was recommended to eliminate the possibility of any leaks or leaching in the future.

Below the pond, Damian and Jane have used land that was unsuitable for farming to create a sanctuary for native wildlife.  A lake was formed and surrounded by native tree plantings, which has quickly become home for kera, eels, and a lot of native waterbirds including teal, heron, and shags. 

‘We’re seeing a lot of birdlife coming back as we keep predators under control and plant the right feed trees for them.  We’re seeing a huge amount of natural wildlife coming back, and only within a relatively short space of time.’

Damian & Jane Roper - Effluent Management System

Effluent solids are used as potting mix for planting young trees, while the liquid effluent from the pond is used to irrigate grazing paddocks. 

‘We test every second year, the effluent and the solids and it’s high in phosphate, high in nitrogen and good organic matter, so it’s a good product for propagation and topsoil creation.’

In an area where earthmoving had left little topsoil, consistent applications of effluent has now built the topsoil up to 6-7 inches thick, and the microbial life is much better.

Damian & Jane Roper - Effluent Management System

The electric stirrer is programmed to run for around two hours in the middle of the night, and then the pump will start for spreading.  This makes good use of the cheaper power, but also maximises nutrient value with less evaporation at night.  The travelling irrigators are run at a speed that allows them to cover the paddock quickly, giving the paddocks a light application often.

‘These blocks don't have any potash, and I've reduced the phosphate.  That’s the value of the effluent. That’s why I’m so keen to extend our effluent use. We want to reduce our fertiliser usage.’


Every five years when a paddock gets turned over, it gets planted in a deep rooted chicory which is able to extract more nutrients after the pasture has exhausted itself. 

‘It captures nutrients that would otherwise be lost to the waterways, so we get another bang out of it.’

One of the farm’s effluent blocks is used to grow maize. Effluent irrigation along with 90% no tillage cropping has resulted in better soil structure and more organic matter.  Crunching the numbers, it’s only costing 21 cents/kg to grow good maize feed for the cows.

‘There’s money in crap.  I didn’t realise how valuable it was.’

The cows are happier and healthier, and milk solid production has increased by 27% while decreasing cow numbers by almost 100. 

Dave Gordon - Effluent Management System


‘Animal health costs have come down.  So all the small changes that we’re making all add up.’ 

Damian and Jane are now planning their next effluent system extension – more mainline to reach over 50% of the farm.  We’re excited to see the results and they admit that the quality Nevada effluent system plays a big part in it! 

The Nevada stirrer with propeller guard was perfect for our large lined pond. After only 30 minutes, the stirrer had exceeded my expectations and had the whole pond swirling.

Othmar Hebler, Taranaki Dairy Farmer

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