Re­cy­cling poo into farm wa­ter

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

A year ago, Forsi In­no­va­tions un­veiled at Fiel­d­ays an ef­flu­ent re­cy­cling sys­tem it be­lieved could rev­o­lu­tionise dairy farm­ing.

The ma­chine turned raw dairy ef­flu­ent into clean, clear wa­ter and would change cur­rent farm­ing prac­tices by elim­i­nat­ing the need for ef­flu­ent ponds, help farm­ers re­main com­pli­ant and re­duce wa­ter­way con­tam­i­na­tion.

It was a huge hit, with lots of pub­lic­ity and in­quiries from farm­ers. There were at least 10 peo­ple in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing the ma­chine, Forsi op­er­a­tions and mar­ket­ing man­ager Craig Hawes said.

Then the dairy pay­out dropped and that in­ter­est waned as farm­ers were forced to tighten their belts.

‘‘If that pay­out hadn’t dropped, we would have been in a to­tally dif­fer­ent po­si­tion.’’

He is philo­soph­i­cal about it. The is­sues around dairy ef­flu­ent and its dis­posal have not dis­ap­peared with many farm­ers put­ting on hold ef­flu­ent sys­tem up­grades un­til the milk price im­proves and there is more cer­tainty over what rules would be im­posed by the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil under its Healthy Rivers plan change.

It made Forsi look at us­ing the tech­nol­ogy in other in­dus­tries, cre­at­ing a sys­tem for re­cy­cling the wa­ter used in car-wash­ing, he said.

‘‘We have come a long way in the last 12 months.’’

The com­pany re­cently in­stalled the sys­tem at a car wash in Pa­pamoa which uses 100 per cent re­cy­cled wa­ter.

‘‘It means the busi­ness does not have to buy fresh wa­ter from the lo­cal coun­cil.

‘‘It’s a proven sys­tem, run­ning 24 hours a day non­stop and for the guy that owns the car wash.

‘‘It’s sav­ing him $30,000 to $40,000 a year on his run­ning costs be­cause he doesn’t have to dis­charge [waste wa­ter].’’

Forsi is also look­ing to use the same tech­nol­ogy to fil­ter stormwa­ter runoff and to clean up waste wa­ter in winer­ies. One win­ery in Akaroa is look­ing closely at the sys­tem.

The ef­flu­ent re­cy­cling sys­tem is housed in a 12-me­tre ship­ping con­tainer and sits on a con­crete pad next to the dairy shed.

It’s plumbed into the pipework set into the ground.

It takes raw ef­flu­ent from the cat­t­le­yards through a large sand trap and over a slope screen sep­a­ra­tor. From there, it en­ters a sus­pended solid re­moval sys­tem.

The wa­ter is then put through fur­ther fil­tra­tion to re­move more con­tam­i­nants and pathogens, and through four ster­il­i­sa­tion steps, in­clud­ing UV ster­il­i­sa­tion, be­fore go­ing into a hold­ing tank.

That process takes five to six hours and can be com­pleted in time for af­ter­noon milk­ing.

The sys­tem re­quires a bunker to com­post solids in.

The solid can even­tu­ally be used as fer­tiliser.

The ma­chine costs just under $300,000 and in­cludes the pro­cess­ing plant and au­to­mated slope screen sep­a­ra­tion sys­tem that sep­a­rates solids and liq­uid ef­flu­ent be­fore it goes into the fil­tra­tion sys­tem.

Hawes said Forsi has im­proved the orig­i­nal sys­tem by adding a con­trol panel, mak­ing it fully au­to­mated.

Nano fil­tra­tion has also been added to pro­vide an ex­tra level of fil­tra­tion.

The hous­ing con­tainer has also been im­proved by adding a cli­mate­con­trol sys­tem to al­low it to work in any con­di­tions and has brought the sys­tem’s run­ning costs right down, he said.

Forsi has re­tained the trial sys­tem on a Mata­mata farm and will con­struct an­other on a Palmer­ston North dairy farm.

‘‘If that pay­out hadn’t dropped, we would have been in a to­tally dif­fer­ent po­si­tion.’’

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