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Agriculture Tips

Saving water on a farm requires only small behavioural changes that can have a large impact on overall water use.

Saving water in dairy sheds

Saving water in the dairy shed requires only small behavioural changes that can have a large impact on overall water use.

Cleaning

Tips for reducing the amount of water used to clean dairy sheds:

  • 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% of the water and 98% of the nutrients in the wastewater.

Milking

  • Set up a system to capture pre-cooler water for reuse. This water can be used for washing or irrigation. Also, rinse small equipment in a sink or bucket to save running water.

In the yard

  • Use recycled water for yard wash. Installing a treatment storage pond will enable water to be recycled for yard washing or irrigation and dampening down the yard as the cows move through it will reduce the water needed to clean it afterwards.
  • Minimising the time animals spend standing in the yard reduces the amount of manure that needs to be cleaned up.

Water quality and recycled water

It should be noted that recycling water can increase concentrations of nutrients and farm chemicals. You should monitor recycled water quality to ensure that it is fit for the intended use.

Saving on stock water

Peak milk production relies on cows being well watered, with good quality water. Some advice for reducing water needs are:

  • Install floats that shut off the water when tanks or troughs are full;
  • Water stock according to their needs - depending on their age and stage in life (refer to Department of Natural Resources in Queensland);
  • Reduce water demand and maintain production levels (and fertility) by providing shelter from the sun. Shelterbelts are a great farm asset with many benefits.

The Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia has produced an excellent guide on measuring dairy shed water usage.

This document can be downloaded from here.