The new system, known as ClearTech
, was developed from research by Lincoln University Soil Science Professors Keith Cameron and Hong Di, and represents a $1.5m investment by Ravensdown.
The technology aims to save billions of litres of freshwater a year by making existing effluent storage go further, with farmers able to separate effluent from dairy shed runoff and reuse the water. The leftover waste can then be turned into nutrient fertiliser for paddocks.
Professor Keith Cameron told One News
that the ClearTech pilot project was producing 10 thousand litres of recyclable water per milking.
“That’s 20 thousand litres a day of water saved, which means we don’t have to use freshwater, and it’s 20 thousand less litres of effluent that get produced,” he said.
The pilot project is installed at the Lincoln University Demonstration Farm (LUDF) and undergoing rigorous testing in a real-world environment to give farmers a preview of the technology.
It was unveiled at a LUDF Farm Focus Day on 3 May by Agriculture Minister Damian O’Connor and representatives from Lincoln University and Ravensdown. A group of 350 dairy farmers attended the event.
The system is installed between the dairy shed and effluent pond and works by binding effluent particles together to settle them out from the water.
The effluent circulating in the ClearTech system is automatically monitored and treated and the separation process kills up to 99% of micro-organisms, such as E. coli, while reducing odour.
Professor Hong Di said similar technology was being used for treating drinking water.
“We’ve taken the same principle and applied it to dairy farm effluent.”
The technology will be commercially available later this year, once testing has been completed.
Ravensdown Effluent Technology Manager Jamie Thompson said the project showed exciting potential to transform “green water” so it could be confidently reused as yard wash.
“About a quarter of a dairy shed’s fresh water use is on yard washing, so the potential benefits to New Zealand are enormous.
"ClearTech will look to save 42 billion litres of freshwater a year – the equivalent of 17,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.”
He said 70 per cent of dairy farmers’ environmental spending was dedicated to effluent management, so ClearTech would help them to save money and meet their compliance obligations.
Professor Cameron also highlighted a positive initial response to the technology from dairy industry stakeholders.
"We're really encouraged to see their willingness and desire to collaborate as we engage with them in the development of ClearTech," he said.
PHOTO: Acting Vice-Chancellor Bruce McKenzie and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor during the unveiling of the new ClearTech system at the Lincoln University Demonstration Dairy Farm on 3 May.