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Dairy Effluent Management

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dairy-effluent_imgThis project aims to assist in the recovery of the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands and Geographe Bay from declining water quality as a result of high nutrient loads from dairy sheds. The upgrading of effluent management systems at dairy sheds in the target “recovery catchments” is expected to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that enters waterways and flows into the wetlands and the bay.


  • A training workshop for local consultants in best practice effluent system design was conducted. Five consultants who fully completed the course received accreditation and are now able to develop effluent management plans for local dairy farmers. The plans cover all aspects of capturing, storing and reusing dairy shed effluent to protect water quality and reduce the need and cost of fertiliser on areas where effluent is applied.
  • 10 dairy farmers have had effluent plans developed through the project and have received incentive funds to implement the recommendations and upgrade their effluent systems. Most upgrades include additional pipework, pumps and sprinklers to increase their effluent application areas and prevent nutrient build up in the soil. Some farmers are also improving their solid separation systems by way of latest technology screens and solid settling ponds and traps. The cost of the upgrades is significant (larger dairies are spending in excess of $50 000) and farmers are required to contribute a minimum of 20% towards the funding.
  • Water quality monitoring at two dairies has been undertaken and initial results are now being assessed.
  • The Code of Practice for Dairy Shed Effluent Western Australia was developed in conjunction with Western Dairy and industry stakeholders and launched by Dairy Australia’s Managing Director Ian Halliday at the Dairy Innovation Day in May 2012. The Code of Practice provides the dairy industry with a set of clear guidelines for managing the effluent that accumulates in and around the milking shed, allowing self regulation from the industry and a consistent reference for referral agencies across the state. Western Dairy has also released ‘Improved Effluent on Dairy Farms – Western Australian Case Studies’ which provided details of effluent upgrades undertaken.
Funding and Partnerships

This project was funded by the State NRM Program. Additional funding has also been secured through the South West Catchments Council to provide additional incentives. The project was undertaken in close partnership with the Western Dairy and the South West Catchments Council.

Project Future

In 2012 the project will:

  • Continue to assist four diaries to complete stage 2 of their effluent management plans.
  • Continue to water quality monitoring at two dairies to monitor the effects of the new effluent systems.
  • Use one dairy as a demonstration site to share knowledge and new technology implemented.
  • Develop a further 10 management plans for diaries.
  • Complete further diary effluent upgrades if funding is available.