Of the food intake ruminants use for maintenance, milk production, rearing a calf and/or to produce meat, as much as 85% can end up as waste. Waste that can be used as fertiliser.
Onfarm benefits of good management include:
- Fertiliser savings
- Improved soil condition
- Prevention of animal health issues
- Compliance with council rules or resource consent.
The key to good decisionmaking is understanding the soil water deficit as essential to prevent ponding and run-off and to avoid applying effluent to saturated soils.
Soil water deficit is the amount of effluent which can be applied to the soil before it reaches field capacity (the amount of water held in the soil after excess water has drained away). If effluent is added at field capacity it will likely result in ponding, runoff or leaching.
The average dairy cow produces about $25 worth of nutrients annually as farm dairy effluent (FDE), according to DairyNZ.
For a 400 cow dairy herd this represents about $10,000 of nutrients annually. Using these FDE nutrients effectively will greatly reduce the fertiliser bill.
Spreading effluent solids requires specialist machinery suited to the type of effluent being spread.
Using a local contractor to spread the effluent solids may be an option. Alternatively, you can hire or buy machinery to do it yourself. Vehicle spreading provides the flexibility to apply effluent in areas where the effluent irrigation system cannot reach. It can also be used for a nutrient boost prior to sowing a crop or applied on silage and hay paddocks.