2018 a2 Milk™ Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grant

Case Study

Grant Recipient: Anna Fitzgerald
State/Town: Warrina Farms, Tongala, Victoria
Project Name: Effluent Upgrade
Grant Amount: $25,000
Project Timeline: November 2018-November 2019


Before photo showing existing solids pond (retaining)

After photo shows new pond.

Background and Objectives

Situated just outside the township of Tongala in Northern Victoria, Warrina Farms sits on 330 acres. The dairy farm, owned by Anna and Scott Fitzgerald, had approximately 350 cows in an aged Herringbone dairy.

Warrina Farms is one of 28 certified a2 Milk™ dairy farm across Australia that selected to produce only the A2 protein and none of the A1 protein found in regular cows’ milk.

In 2018, they were updating to a rotary dairy in order to increase herd numbers in the coming years.

With this increase in herd numbers and the farm’s effluent system already at capacity, the Fitzgeralds needed to upgrade and update the system.  This would ensure all water is captured from the new diary and renovated yards.

Project Aims

In 2018, Anna was successful with her application for an a2™ Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grant in the amount of $25,000 to help fund the farm’s effluent upgrade project.

The project aims were to partially relocate and update the effluent system to ensure that the farm met environmental best practice. The liquid holding pond was particularly undersized and required frequent emptying.  This meant that they were irrigating paddocks in the winter when they did not have to just to use the water supplied.  Overall, upgrading the effluent system would mean that the farm could better utilise the water for fertilisation of pastures in more areas of the property.

Project Implementation

Warrina Farm engaged an effluent system designer and hired contractors to complete the project.  The new pond was excavated and pipework laid from the current pond, as well as pipework to the internal drain for mixing with irrigation water on farm.

The only omission from the original plan implementation was the inclusion of an agitator.  Anna had originally applied for a $50,000 grant, but as she received $25,000 and the agitator was not essential for this initial phase, she will wait to install it in the future once water levels increase.

Project Outcomes

Anna said, “All effluent from our new dairy is successfully travelling from the dairy to our old first pond and then into the new, larger second holding pond.

There are currently no odours coming from our pond system.  This is a sign that it is working effectively. This was something that we were conscious of being close to a rural town.”

The pond is oversized to ensure longevity and in the future, Anna plans to upgrade/upsize the solids pond and move it closer to this new pond.

She said, “After starting in the new rotary dairy we now realise just how essential this project was for the improving of our nutrient management and in turn the safeguarding of our water supply.”

At this stage, the levels in the pond are still too low to utilise as an effluent fertiliser but this will be useful in the future.

According to Anna, “Without this grant it would have been really difficult to complete this project to its quality whilst building a new dairy in this seasonal climate.

We can utilise the water store in the dam to fertilise our pastures at a time that suits us and are not reliant on the capacity of the pond as was previously the case. This gets the most use out of the water and alleviates risk of watering at a time that impacts the pasture.”

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