Don’t Drop the Ball with Your Effluent Pond Drop Test
Most owners of dairy effluent storage ponds believe that their ponds don’t leak. This is understandable, especially where they have been synthetically lined. However, the need to prove that this is the case is mounting. The need for proof is driven by the requirement to run the farm at Good Management Practice (GMP). To meet GMP, storage facilities must be sealed and maintained to ensure containment of effluent.
Although there may be a belief that the ponds won’t be leaking, without doing a test you can’t be sure. This is reminiscent of the early days of introducing Farm Environment Plans (FEP), where some would question the need for these given that they considered themselves to be a good operator. The response often given was that it was no longer sufficient to be a good operator, you now must prove that this is the case. This can be done via the FEP and auditing process, and with effluent storage ponds this can only be done by appropriate testing.
Testing needs to be accurate. For example, in Canterbury the criteria for storage being a permitted activity is that leakage cannot exceed 1mm per day. In a dynamic environment where there may be evaporation, wind, pressure changes, rain, inflows into the pond and so on, it’s not easy to measure and have the confidence that the results will have the required accuracy.
Aqualinc have recently upgraded our pond testing equipment, which has increased the degree of accuracy. It has also made it much easier to set up and dismantle, which saves time. We have been busy this year carrying out tests, with many being completed during the winter months. In the past, it’s been a common misconception that these tests must be carried out when the dairy shed is not being used as this prevents inflows during the test. However, with the equipment, process and analysis Aqualinc use, there is no reason that the tests can’t be completed at any time of year.