Innovation’s environmental wins
31 August 2018
Working with farmers to create innovative solutions aimed at improving the environmental sustainability of our sector is a key focus for DairyNZ – and there’s always room for something new, as DairyNZ’s Logan Bowler explains.
Combining environmental sustainability goals with on-farm economic ‘wins’ has been factored into on-farm innovation for a few decades now and DairyNZ is a big part of this picture. In my own role as an environmental extension specialist for DairyNZ, I’ve seen many great examples of innovative solutions and technology in action in the farm dairy effluent space. Here are just a few:
- Irrigation monitors – minimise or prevent discharges from stalled irrigators and broken pipes, make managing systems more efficient, prevent environmental mishaps and save farmers stress and time. Most can be operated from a smartphone.
- Travelling rain guns – use ‘water wheel’ type turbines to irrigate with greater speed control, creating greater wetted diameters, meeting slower soil infiltration needs and targeting only part or half circles if
- Hydrofan washdown nozzles – reduce water use by about half in dairy sheds, with less hosing.
- DairyNZ’s effluent spreading calculator app – helps contract effluent spreaders to know how much land they needed to spread over to match desired nutrient
- DairyNZ’s ‘Envirowalk’ app – is used by farmers as they walk around the farm to keep track of what’s happening in each area and any issues.
I get great feedback from farmers I visit about the benefits they’re enjoying thanks to these types of initiatives. One from Levin says, “I love our new effluent monitoring station. I can keep an eye on the farm’s effluent irrigation from anywhere in the country and have peace of mind that it’s performing well.” Another from Northland is keen on the hydrofan nozzle, telling me, “Our new low-water-use washdown nozzle is great. When I’m hosing out, I often think about how many effluent irrigator shifts I’m saving.”
A relatively-new ‘green water’ approach using recycled effluent to ‘green wash’ dairy shed yards is also now making effluent management easier for a small but growing number of dairy farmers. Water use in and around the farm is reduced by up to 65 per cent and effluent storage requirements by around 50 per cent.
‘Green water’ practices save time and money too – less electricity is needed to pump water from its source; less runs are required from irrigation equipment; pumping times are halved for effluent irrigation and they enable labour-free washing of the dairy shed yard.
However, continued environmental pressure on farmers means they, we and the dairy sector can’t sit back and relax – we’ll always look to find new innovative ideas on improving the sector’s footprint, while also making farmers’ lives easier.
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