What to consider when investing in effluent storage

What to consider when investing in effluent storage

1 October 2020

Investing in effluent storage is a significant decision on-farm, so it's worth taking the time to carefully plan what is needed to ensure the right design for your farm.

Current and future considerations

The first thing to consider when planning effluent storage is to think about how you currently farm and whether anything will change in the future.

For example, if you're currently an owner-operator but are planning to step back and get a manager, will that affect your plans? Or if you're planning to expand your farm or herd - will the effluent storage pond cope with those changes?

An effluent system can be tailored to suit a farm's requirements. Let your system designer and installer know your needs during the initial design discussion and keep your effluent system as simple as possible - this makes it easy for staff to understand and manage.

DairyNZ has a farm dairy effluent system planning guide with a table of options to share with your designer, see dairynz.co.nz/effluent-system.

Choose an accredited designer

Designing and installing farm dairy effluent systems is a technical job requiring specialist knowledge.

As with many trades, an accreditation system is in place for effluent design.

Accredited providers are trained effluent system specialists who understand and follow the Farm Dairy Effluent (FDE) Code of Practice and design standards when designing and installing systems.

DairyNZ established the accreditation programme. Look for the green tick logo when selecting a dairy effluent system company. A full list of accredited FDE companies is available online at effluentaccreditation.co.nz.

Gather your core information

When planning effluent storage, work with your designer to create one that’s suited to your needs and property. Make sure they are aware of the points below:

  • Consent requirements
  • Soil type (soils can be either high or low risk for effluent application)
  • Daily water use in the farm dairy
  • Your budget
  • Your farm management and how you want to apply effluent
  • The pond site - including distance from the cowshed and line of sight to houses
  • Your preferences for the storage type
  • Effluent solids management
  • Safety management
  • Siting the electricity connection

To ensure that everyone is clear, check that the quote includes the key requirements above such as the site, pond type, storage capacity and electricity.

Calculate how much storage is needed

Your designer can calculate how much effluent storage is required, based on factors including location, soil type, effluent application, shed type and water use. A report can show you the calculation.

Regional councils may request the calculation to ensure the storage meets regional rules or resource consent conditions. Some councils will only accept system design and storage calculations from an FDE accredited company.

It's a good idea to have a little more storage than your calculations show. The Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator will give the best results on-farm by allowing for deferred irrigation and ensuring you don't run out of space.

If you want an independent storage calculation, an FDE accredited company that is not a product supplier or a Dairy Effluent Warrant of Fitness assessor can provide this service - see effluentaccreditation.co.nz and www.effluentwof.co.nz.

Training your team to use your new system

Ask your designer or installer for an operations and maintenance manual for your new system. They may also offer your team training on using the system.

Check the guide!

DairyNZ has summarised the key things to think about when planning or upgrading an effluent system, visit dairynz.co.nz/effluent-system

Article supplied by Dairy NZ