Many dairy farmers have already made significant water efficiency gains in recent times. Here's how to improve water use on dairy farms.
Evaluate Water Use On Your Farm
This will help you determine where the most water is used on your farm, and help identify leaks and losses (evaporation or seepage).
Preventing water loss (i.e. through fixing leaks, etc.) is the easiest, most cost effective and least work intensive way to save water.
Once you know where your water is used and where it is lost, you can begin to develop a strategy to save it.
Whole Farm Planning
Efficient grazing practices, effective irrigation design and irrigation scheduling are important elements of good farm management.
‘Whole farm planning’ can improve overall efficiency. It involves looking at farm layout, water supply, and potential opportunities for water conservation given the particular conditions of your farm site (soil type etc).
There are also courses available in whole farm planning. To find a course, check with your local TAFE.
Save Irrigation Water
You can do this by:
- Developing an Irrigation and Drainage Management Plan for the whole farm.
- Monitoring soil moisture levels to prevent over watering.
- Building an on-site water storage facility so that gravity fed water can be stored when it is not needed.
- Preventing leakage from distribution channels.
- Using sprinkler irrigation systems instead of flood irrigation.
- Installing a drainage system that collects runoff water for re-use.
- Water Wise Rules will apply from 1 July 2014.Water Wise Rules help conserve water every day. Water Wise Rules apply to all water users who use water sourced from Hunter Water, including residents, business and government. Bore water and water extracted from rivers are excluded from Water Wise Rules. Some government restrictions do apply to bore water and water extracted from rivers, so always check with your local council and the NSW Office of Water.
- Remember all hand held hoses must have a trigger nozzle.
Saving Water In Dairy Sheds
Saving water in the dairy sheds requires only small behavioural changes that can have a large impact on overall water use:
- Sweep floors and alleys before washing down to greatly reduce the amount of water needed.
- Yards and floors should be sloped to facilitate easy solids removal.
- Periodic automatic flushing of the yards during milking will make the clean–up quicker and easier.
- Consider collecting water from the roof for the plate cooler system or washing the floor of the shed.
- Plate cooler water can be supplied from rainwater tanks and either recycled through a storage tank, or used for wash down.
- Use a high pressure hose to clean more quickly, thoroughly and with less water.
- In the washing down of sheds after milking, nutrient-rich wastewater is created. Reuse of this wastewater (e.g. applying to pasture) can potentially save 96 per cent of the water and 98 per cent of the nutrients in the wastewater.