Effluent runoff from dairy farms is an environmental hazard. When it rains, the nutrients in manure often flow off of fields and into nearby lakes and streams. These nutrients feed algae, which then flourishes and chokes off other pond life. To prevent this from happening, many governments and councils have instituted fines to punish farmers who allow runoff into the water system.
Environmental regulations and restrictions require farmers to look for new ways to handle effluent and often result in reduced farm sizes. Because of the heavy fines incurred if a farmer’s effluent leaches into waterways, farmers must think twice before expanding their farm. The conflict is a classic one between business development and environmental best practices.
The innovative K-Line irrigation system offers farmers a solution that is both efficient in dealing with effluent run-off and responsible to the environment. When paired with a vegetative treatment system, farmers have found that they are able to abide by regulations without having to sacrifice the potential for growth. K-Line irrigation systems have also proven to be easy to use and extremely cost-effective.
Farmer Richard Baumert was able to follow local environmental restrictions by installing a K-Line farm irrigation system to work with his vegetative treatment system. A vegetative treatment system is a way of managing runoff that entails diverting it to a settling basin, where the solids separate and sink to the bottom. The liquid on top is then transported to a vegetative treatment area: a patch of grasses that will absorb the effluent.
Vegetative treatment systems have been used for several years but have traditionally involved more complicated outlet structures like gravity-flow gated pipes or liquid manure spreaders. The K-Line irrigation lines, however, are easy to install and adjust. Baumert notes: “The neat thing about it is the groundwork didn’t (even) take half a day.”
With the irrigation equipment in place, effluent drains into a basin and is then pumped out within 36 hours to a vegetative treatment area, where it is absorbed without entering into public waters. The grasses, which cover a plot equal in size to the feedlot, absorb the nutrients of the effluent before it enters the ground water.
Because K-Line uses a low-pressure system to distribute effluent, it can be used on wet soils, where using another irrigator would result in ponding, runoff or leeching. This resolves another common problem in effluent disposal: what to do in wet weather. Because of K-Line’s low-pressure distribution method, it can run on wet ground for 24 hours without resulting in pooling or runoff.
Finally, it is possible for farms to expand without concern over the environmental impact of larger herds. With a K-Line irrigation system, effluent runoff can be easily and economically managed.