Best practice management of dairy effluent ponds and their nutrients and impact on profitability
Reports by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that 72% of dairy effluent systems audited on Gippsland farms did not meet auditing standards indicated farmers were not undertaking “best practice” management of their dairy effluent.
Poorly managed effluent ponds have the potential for environmental damage. Publicity created from such damage could harm the image of the dairy industry and its products, on both the domestic and international markets. In addition, by not using the effluent sludge, farmers are not taking advantage of an important farm resource they had already paid for in the form of bought feed and fertilizer to reduce input costs.
Objectives for the project were to demonstrate that natural resource management and profitable farming need not be mutually exclusive through:
1. Application of nutrients in effluent to pastures means less off-farm fertilisers need to be purchased
2. Clever use of existing infrastructure, such as small effluent dams, can negate the need for building larger effluent ponds
3. Assessment of the impact of these to be incorporated into a cost/benefit analysis of “best practice” management of dairy effluent ponds
4. Assistance to farmers wanting to improve their own operations by providing the demonstration site as well as information via the proposed communications.