Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : June 2013 Contents 16 The Dairyman JUNE 2013
BY ROB TIPA
WAITUNA dairy farmers Craig and
Heidi Williams spent $280,000 in
three months last year on major
development, including a top of the line
effluent management system, which they
believe was worth it for peace of mind.
The couple are equity partners in
Foveaux Investments, which milks
between 820 and 900 cows on a 350ha
farm on the edge of the Waituna lagoon.
The partnership had been planning
major investment for three years to
increase the capacity of its old efflu-
ent storage system from six days to the
present system, which has 90 days storage
and a capacity of 3 1/2 million litres.
''The development had been in the
wind for a while, but it took a bit of time
to work out what system was best,'' Craig
told The Dairyman recently.
Technology in the dairy industry was
improving all the time, he said, so it was a
matter of selecting the best system avail-
able on the market at the time.
Because the level of groundwater was
so high in the Waituna catchment, the
partnership opted for a raised storage
pond built above ground level rather than
dug into it.
Craig said that meant greater costs and
more work carting fill from another part
of the farm to build up ground levels.
The pond alone cost $150,000 without
counting the cost of fittings. It is lined
with a heavy-duty liner that offers an extra
level of security.
The partners also installed a 50,000
litre holding tank that captures green
waste gravity fed from the concrete pad
around the milking shed.
The system is fully automated with
warning alarms in the milking shed, but in
the event of a power failure, the tank has
enough capacity to deal with any rainfall
run-off from the yards overnight.
A mechanical stirrer in the bottom of
the holding tank mixes effluent before it
is pumped through a mechanical sepa-
rator that squeezes liquids from solids.
The end product of the solids looks and
feels like dry grass clippings, which are
easily spread on paddocks with a fertiliser
The liquid effluent flows into the
storage pond and can be recycled through
a green wash system to hose down the
yards, offering a 20 per cent saving in
fresh water use on the farm.
The system has also been designed to
divert rainfall from the yards in winter and
the farm has a back-up generator to pump
water from the holding tank in case of
New technology offers peace of mind
extended power failures.
While the contractors were on site
they also built a new 50x23 metre silage
pad that is connected to the gravity-fed
drainage system to divert run-off and
any leachates through the separator and
Craig said the overall development
had given the partnership the storage
they were looking for and was a huge
relief after the limitations of the previous
''The stress under the old system was
huge,'' he said. ''There were so many
things that could go wrong with it, you
didn't even want to leave the farm.''
''We had six days storage with the
previous system and we had no option but
to spread effluent when the ground was
wet,'' he said.
Following a dry summer and autumn,
the new effluent storage pond was nearly
empty in early May with plenty of spare
capacity going into winter.
Craig is pleased with the benefits of
a new pulse irrigation system that now
spreads effluent on all but a few high risk
areas of the farm.
''We've noticed a huge difference in the
grass by pulsing it on at lower application
rates,'' he said.
The partnership completed most of its
major capital development work in one hit
and will now focus on finishing riparian
planting of 7-8km of drains.
''We're trying to plant about 2km of
waterways a year, starting with the high
risk areas and the creeks first,'' Craig said.
''Everything is already fenced so it meant
moving fences three or four metres out so
we have room to plant tussock.''
The Williams have also fenced off two
separate blocks of native bush covering
30ha and protected them with QEII Trust
Their development and protection of
waterways means they now have resource
consents to spread effluent wider over
most of the farm other than the high-risk
At its peak, the farm milked 900 cows
but numbers have subsequently dropped
back to 820 cows.
''Dropping back in cow numbers hasn't
hurt us at all. It's actually helped us,''
Craig said. ''We seem to be getting more
production with fewer cows on this type
Craig Williams grabs a
handful of dry waste
after it has been through
a mechanical separator
to extract solids from
effluent on Foveaux
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