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Effluent Management

Effluent ManagementEffluent ManagementEffluent ManagementEffluent Management
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Effluent Management

The 4 S's of effluent management

Simple, Store, Stir, Spread

Effluent issues appear in general to be more complex than they need to be, many thousands of dollars are spent and wasted on and off farm. Many farmers have spent far more money than they should have. Savings can be made if only you keep things simple.

If we took the point of view that we have no effluent at all, but instead are obtaining (instead of, or, in addition to our normal fertilizer needs) an amount of "new age" organic 100% pure fertilizer things may stack up a lot better and make things easier.

For example, say you did obtain 200 or maybe 2000 ton of this organic liquid fertilizer, for starters the supplier would either spray this direct onto your pasture or, you would need to store it for later application. Just like chemical solid fertilizers.

Lets argue that 2000 ton is cheapest way to buy this "new age fert" and as such you store it and spread it when it suits you.

You now need to build a storage facility and you obtain some equipment to spread this material or, you contract it out to a contracting company.

If you store the material for longer periods the manufacturers recommendations are to stir it weekly to ensure it stays in suspense and is homogenized.

Step one is very much simplified

1) Store and Stir

Storing is simple, all you need is a pond which can be an earthen made "lagoon" which either needs to comply with local authority permeability standards, or you line it with a liner or concrete. Alternative a silo could be built, again concrete or an alternative material like steel or timber could be used (the latter are not seen much in NZ but are common overseas where for many hundreds of years farmers have been storing this age old fertilizer)

A good performing permanent stirring system is to be installed which provides and easy means of stirring regularly.

Step one completed

Step two is to spread, here we have multiple options but in all cases it's important we do not over exceed the manufacturers recommendations of 5 mm to 25 mm per application. (soil and climate dependent)

2) Spread

We can use a travelling Irrigator
We can use pots in a line
We can use travelling guns
We can use an existing irrigator like a Pivot (in which case we do need to separate out the liquid and keep the solids separate which is more complicated and does add cost)
We can use a contractor (in which case he brings all equipment)

If we use an on farm based system we need pump(s) and a main line and some drag hose..

We need some control systems to ensure we keep track of what is happening and that if there are breakdowns we reduce the possibility of spillage.

Lets start with a permanent reticulation system. Ideally you wish to spread this fertilizer all over the farm, but depending on exiting NPK levels in some paddocks , hills, rivers and other obstructions like trees or hard to get to area's you may choose to exclude some paddocks.

The size of the main line (PVC or Poly pipe) is in most situations better to be a larger than smaller diameter, this to ensure we loose as little pump pressure as possible and can pump as far away as possible. Generally 75 to 90 mm OD is best.

Hydrants placed at strategic points will allow you to create "takeoff" points. Where you have down hill mainline and hydrants in "low points" ensure you can close these off so when you are disengaging the irrigator or the hydrant is open you do not end up with a large pond around the hydrant.

You will need a pump or pumps, the capacity needs to be calculated so we can reach the furthest away parts of the system (including the irrigator/ pots/ guns or pivot line) with the highest possible pressure and flow rate If you aim for 40-50 PSI at the inlet of the irrigator you will in general have plenty of pressure to drive the irrigator fast enough to get lowest application needed.

You will need an Irrigator system, various options are available, what is important is that you choose a system which can deal with effluent (not water) effluent means there will be bits and pieces of material which could block the system. The more "refined" the applicator the more issues you will have keeping the system going. Proven ability to apply at a rate applicable to your farm (often specified in your resource consent) is important also. Easy maintenance and set up make a difference in time management, often cheap systems up front mean more cost in operation.
Check that the system can apply a nice and even spread

Add a control/management system to the system so that when the irrigator stops moving the system shuts down. Generally this comprises of a built in or towed behind shut off system (note our golden standard winning Irrisafe™)

If you want to be fancy and you can justify the expense add a GPS mapping /tracking system.

Last but not least write a simple operation/training manual which is accessible to all staff. Ensure you train all staff and new staff coming onto the farm.
Use pictures and easy to understand language to describe what needs doing daily and periodically to operate and maintain the system.
Add a copy of the resource consent so every one understands what is permitted.
Add a copy of the farm map showing where the system is placed and what paddocks are to be used for irrigation.
Add a list of suppliers and installers contact details and whom to contact and for what.
Ideally assign one person to be the responsible person.

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