Source: Government of Victoria 3
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) says that after a fairly dry autumn in most areas, dairy farmers need to be emptying their dairy effluent ponds for maintenance now.EPA Gippsland Region Manager Stephen Lansdell said it’s an important opportunity to prevent pollution while keeping valuable fertiliser on the farm.
“Common sense and the Environment Protection Act both require that dairy effluent stays on the farm and out of waterways. Poorly managed ponds can overflow, sending nutrients into waterways where they reduce oxygen levels, kill aquatic life, encourage toxic algae and create the danger of disease,” Mr Lansdell said.
“Dairy farmers can prevent effluent ponds from overflowing by de-sludging, removing vegetation and irrigating the water component to pasture when weather conditions are appropriate,” he said.
“Properly utilised, dairy effluent is a valuable fertiliser that can increase pasture production. Good dairy effluent management is a classic case of good for business, good for the environment.”
Problems with dairy effluent ponds are common. When EPA ran an inspection program on 31 dairy farms in 2017, just over half were served with Pollution Abatement Notices; legally enforceable instructions to undertake works to resolve pollution problems.
“Failure to comply with an official notice can lead to a fine, and the neighbours won’t be happy if you set off an algal bloom in the water they are using for stock and irrigation,” he said.
EPA officers can trace an effluent spill back to the source, and will continue to monitor progress on the work required under any Pollution Abatement Notice to make sure the local environment and neighbouring farms are protected.
“A fine is a last resort, and there is plenty of advice and technical support for farmers. EPA works with Agriculture Victoria and Dairy Australia to provide practical advice, guidance and resources, including free effluent testing programs.”
Guidelines on effective effluent management on dairy farms can be found by visiting
EPA urges people to report suspected pollution to the EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or at www.epa.vic.gov.au
Agriculture Victoria, Dairy Australia and dairy regional development programs such as GippsDairy have a range of tools that can assist farmers.
Agriculture Victoria’s local Dairy Extension Officer can provide free effluent testing and a health check of current effluent systems, as well as providing advice on the best use of the valuable nutrients and the storage capacity of your ponds based on cow number, water use in the dairy and rainfall.
For further information on this service, contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.
For further information on how to design or to update effluent systems, please visit: http://dairyinfrastructure.com.au/planning/effluent-system-designers/.
For further information about managing dairy effluent, please refer to the National FertSmart Guidelines for the dairy industry at: http://fertsmart.dairyingfortomorrow.com.au/dairy-soils-and-fertiliser-manual/chapter-13-using-dairy-effluent/