Your pond tells the truth about your farm

Every farmer wants to do well and there are many indicators of a successful Dairy Farming Operation. Top of the list is a farmer's Bank Account. If the cashflow levels are high, a farmer feels secure. If money is running low, the Farmer's first thought is to get more of it. The Bank Managers first thought, however, is to find the cause of the drop and to look for ways to work the money more efficiently.

Another indicator of a successful Dairy Farming Operation is a farmer's effluent pond. A clear liquid pond which is easily pumped and irrigated is an indicator that other key aspects up the farming chain – like soil nutrition balance, grass health and animal digestion efficiency – are in spot on.

On the other hand, a thick crust on the top of the pond joined with the corresponding sludge on the bottom, is a sign of inefficiency up the chain.

The crust and sludge in the pond is feed that has been paid for but not efficiently utilised by cows in digestion. Instead of looking for the cause of this feed wastage, as a Banker would do with money problems, the Farmer spends thousands money getting machines to deal with the symptoms of the real problem. He buys solids seperators, weeping walls and stirrers to liquefy the effluent so they they can pump and irrigate it onto pasture.

Throughout the country, we have observed a very clear link between the state of a farmer's effluent pond and his soils, feed, and cows. A liquefied pond with no crusting has a lot of good biological activity in the effluent – you can actually see the beneficial bacteria at work on the surface. In every case, we find that same positive biological activity in the soil of that farm. In other words, a sign that a farm is performing well is the presence of these beneficial bacteria throughout the whole biological cycle – from the soil, through the feed, in the cows stomachs, and in the effluent pond.

Farms need beneficial bacteria
Aerobic bacteria are vital to a farm's health; they are responsible for efficient digestion of the feed that is made available to the cow. The more the cow digests, the less solids go to the pond, which in turn reduces the problem of crusting and sludge build up.

If conditions are not correct at any stage of the biological cycle, these beneficial bacteria will die. It is the killing of these bacteria that is the cause of the undigested feed which then becomes the crust and sludge in the effluent pond. When we are called in to fix a problem pond, the first thing we do is introduce these beneficial aerobic bacteria. Before we begin however, we test and treat the pond so that it is favourable to these bacteria. These good bugs then eat the crust and liquefy the effluent.

BOTTOM LINE: Farmers, keep these good buggers alive!

David Law


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