Northern Irrigation and Southern Riverina
"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" John Wooden
Inside this issue:
- Carryover cap extended on Murray System
- Case Study: Higher Flow Rate Irrigation - Medium Soil
- My ideal dairy effluent system
- Monthly reminders
- What's On
Low Protein Grain
Brett Davidson, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Deniliquin
A soft finish to the winter crop harvest has meant yields came off as most cropping farmers expected. Screenings have been low, but unfortunately low crude protein has been order of the harvest right across the board for oats, barley and wheat.
Given that wheat is the main component of a supplementary ration for dairy herds, the low protein will be an issue. Rations will require a higher level of supplementation with a protein source to make milker quality ration. Most wheat this year is falling into the ASW1 standard specification, and it is not making the higher grades because the protein is below 10 per cent. ASW1 has no minimum protein requirement, so when buying grain some loads will be a lot more expensive than others, on a cost per kilogram protein basis, as they could test anywhere from between 5 per cent to 10 per cent protein.
Dairy cows need between 12 per cent and 16 per cent protein in their diet depending on their stage of lactation; young stock and growing stock that are developing have need 14 to 17 per cent protein. Low protein grain could be a bigger issue on some farms that are grazing millet and sorghum, or have a cereal and corn based silage as part of their summer feeding program. In these instances, these herds will have to increase their protein supplementation to achieve a balanced diet. Doing so could make balancing the diet very expensive.
Whole cotton seed is very popular this year, and the prices are very attractive at around $240/tonne ex works. But whole cotton seed can only be fed up to 2.5 kilograms/day. Above this level cattle can become very sick as the high oil content is very hard for them to process. There may also not be enough protein to supplement the diet to the appropriate level.
The most popular source of protein is canola meal and it is an excellent source of protein. It is currently running about $340/ tonne ex works, but when you have to start adding this into the ration it will increase the cost. Lupins are another alternative but as they are in very short supply and it may not be a viable option.
To manage the risk associated with buying grain you must feed test! All feed grain should be tested before it comes onto your property and a grain consignment should have the appropriate grade assigned to it so you know what you are getting. Ensure that the feed test supplied applies to the grain you are buying.
All farmers need to be aware that there are the Grain Trade Australia (GTA) Commodity Standards, which are a critical tool for anyone purchasing, selling, trading, brokering or operating in the commercial grain industry. You can get a copy of the standards at www.graintrade.org.au, which has all of the grain standards with an explanation of their quality parameters. The GTA Commodity Standards is the new name for the old NACMA grain trading standards that most people will be familiar with.
Currently F1 barley is cheaper than ASW1 wheat by about $30/tonne, but F1 barley can have up to an extra 15 per cent screenings. The screenings aren't usually processed by on farm feed mills and that grain tends to be wasted with most of it being unprocessed and passing straight through the cow. ASW1 has a 5 per cent screening level.
F1 barley also has no minimum protein level, the same as ASW1, however the reports at the silos are that the barley protein levels are actually coming in lower than that of wheat. With the combination of potential higher screenings and lower protein levels, wheat might appear to be better but only a feed test will be able to confirm which will be the better option.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries has a feed laboratory at Wagga Wagga which provides a feed test service and a quick return on results. For information on how to collect and submit samples and to order sample kits, visit the NSW Department of Primary industries website, and type 'feed quality service' into the search function.
The RAPID Feed Analysis service is also available. You can source the yellow RAPID Feed Analysis kits through your milk factory or by contacting George Weston Technologies directly. For more information contact Kris Giddings, telephone (02) 9764 8121 or email email@example.com.
To make sure you get the grain that you have paid for the simple answer is 'feed test, feed test, and feed test!' Cheap loads of feed may be just that, and might work out to be very expensive in the long run. If you would like more information, please visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/dairy-cattle.
Celebrating twenty years of service
The DEPI Dairy Services Branch is very pleased to announce that this edition marks twenty years of service in providing the dairy farmers and industry members of our region with a monthly newsletter dedicated to supplying timely technical information regarding all aspects of farm productivity.
Since February 1993 when the first edition of the Target 10 Newsletter was published, under various names and with a progression of authors and editors, we have been able to continuously provide a monthly newsletter to service the industry.
The newsletter has been an important means of communication with farmers, providing practical on farm information and seasonal advice, updates of research results and notification of extension activities.
We would like to thank you for your continuing support of the newsletter and hope that you continue to enjoy the information that it provides.
Carryover cap extended on murray system
Sourced largely from information available on the Victorian Water Register web site
The end of season cap on carryover water will now not come in to effect for the Victorian Murray system until 30 June 2014.
The Water Minister announced the 12 month extension for Murray system irrigators on 20 December 2012. At that stage, no declaration of a low risk of spill had been made for the Murray system and there was seen to be a need to give Murray water users more time to adjust their water holdings to work within the carryover limit.
As described in a related article Recent Changes to Carryover Rules, in the January 2013 edition of the Dairy Bulletin, Goulburn and Campaspe irrigators will not be able to carry over more than their full water share volume (high-reliability water shares plus low-reliability water shares) starting from the end of this season. Any unused allocation over 100 per cent of the linked water share volume will be automatically re-allocated on 30 June.
For the rest of this season Goulburn and Campaspe irrigators will benefit from keeping an eye on their remaining allocation relative to their entitlement volume and estimated water use, to help with decisions about carryover volumes, trading allocation and potentially trading or leasing water shares.
The diagram below illustrates when each of the changes from the Carryover Review (as described in last month's Dairy Bulletin article) will come in to effect.
For more information on these changes please refer to the Victorian Water Register web site www.waterregister.vic.gov.au, or contact Rob O'Connor DEPI Echuca on (03) 5482 0417 or your trusted farm advisor or water broker.
Information in the image: When the changes from the carryover review come into effect
New limits on trade from the Goulburn, Campaspe and the Loddon.
10 January 2013
Limits on trade into the Victorian Murray from NSW came into effect.
Ability to apply to relinquish unused allocation.
30 June 2013
New cap on carryover comes into effect for Goulburn and Campaspe.
1 July 2013
- New Murray spill rules
- Changes to the charges for storing more than your entitlement volume.
- Changes to the Goulburn and Murray system early reserve policy.
30 June 2014
New cap on carryover comes into effect for Murray.
Case study: Higher flow rate irrigation - medium soil
Who: Mark and Lynne Peterson, dairy farmers from Nathalia
What: Larger Flow Rate Bay Outlets
On the farm
Mark and Lynne Peterson are currently milking 130 cows and increasing their herd on their 180 hectare property, north east of Nathalia. Mark's father bought the farm in 1976 and it has been a dairy enterprise since then. Mark completed his apprenticeship on the property in the early 1980s. Mark and Lynne took over full control of the property in 2000. The farm practices biodynamic agriculture since 1987.
Nine bays (approximately 300 metres long and 45 metres wide) and the channel supplying them were remodelled in February/ March 2010 to receive flow rates of up to 20 megalitres/day. 600 millimetre piped Padman outlets 2.4 metres long were installed. The bays were sown to permanent pasture in autumn 2010. The current supply system can only deliver a maximum of 10 megalitres/day to these bays. Modernisation of the supply system will result in the property being connected to a 20 megalitres/day supply.
A mixture of soil types are present across the farm, however the bays set up for fast flow contain mostly medium clay loam soil. The Petersons aim to use approximately 0.5 megalitres/day per irrigation. Their High Reliability Water Share is 290 megalitres and they plan to supplement this with temporary water in the medium term, unless the price of permanent water falls. A Whole Farm Plan has been developed for the property and production is focussed on the most suitable soils.
Mark believes there is merit in irrigating with higher flow rates and the cost difference to install larger outlets as a component of the required channel upgrade, was minimal. If he is wrong and the flow rate is too high for his soils, he can irrigate two bays at a time and still reduce the time he spends managing irrigations.
The benefits according to Mark
It's too soon for the Petersons to know the production and water use benefits of their new system, as the large outlets have only been used a few times and flow rates are currently restricted to 10 megalitres/day. However, Mark feels that less water is being used per irrigation.
The main benefit identified so far, has been the ease of irrigating. Being able to deliver 10 megalitres/day to the bays has reduced the time taken to irrigate and ensured the irrigation time is fairly consistent. The outlets installed can be automated which is a great advantage.
Bay slopes range from 1:850 to 1:1,000, which is relatively flat for permanent pasture, so being able to irrigate faster should help to get water on and off the bays more quickly. It is currently taking about 2.5 to 3 hours to irrigate each bay.
How much did it cost?
For the Petersons the cost has been minimal – they were refurbishing the farm channel anyway, so the cost of adopting a higher flow rate amounted to the difference in cost between smaller outlets and the larger ones they have used.
Did the benefits outweigh the cost?
Mark's gut feel is that the benefits will outweigh costs for a range of reasons, such as improved pasture quality, convenience and ease of irrigating, easier channel maintenance, and likely improvements to water use efficiency. But does fast flow work? Mark is not sure at this early stage.
Is there anything to look out for?
Mark is still learning how to drive the system, but drainage off the bottom and away from the bays is critical. "If you don't get the time to shut off irrigation there will be water everywhere."
On a medium/heavy clay loam, Mark may not see the water savings that irrigators on light soils would (see the Higher Flow Rate Irrigation - Light Soil case study on page 3 of the January edition) and may find the 'opportune time', or time that water is ponded on the bay, is insufficient at high flow rates to adequately replenish soil moisture. As Mark says, he does have the option of slowing down irrigations by irrigating two bays at a time if this is the case.
The cost of implementing higher flow rate irrigation seems to have been small in Mark and Lynne's case, since they were redeveloping anyway. Even if water savings are minimal, there are other benefits they can capture. One of the nice aspects of their development plan is the opportunity they have to test fast flow on part of their farm, learning how it can work for them, without major financial risk.
On relatively flat bays, such as those on Mark and Lynne's farm, a low irrigation supply flow rate and slow water advance down bays can cause excessive opportunity time and over-watering at the top of the bay, and/or little or no opportunity time and underwatering at the bottom of the bay. In these cases, a higher flow rate can increase irrigation uniformity.
Higher flow rate irrigation should reduce production losses due to scalding and water logging, provided surface drainage is able to quickly remove excess water from the bottom of bays. On Mark's relatively flat bays, spinner cuts will help remove excess water from the bottoms of bays more quickly.
With shorter irrigations, Mark should spend less time chasing water, and the outlets he has installed provide him with the option to automate later and further reduce the time he spends managing water. High flows do require more careful management of cut-off though. As Mark says, a timing mistake at a low flow rate will not matter too much, whereas a late cut-off at high flows will result in 'water everywhere'. This underscores the need for good surface drainage and an adequate reuse system able to handle the higher drainage flows that can occur with high flow irrigation.
Call DEPI Echuca on (03) 5482 1922 or DEPI Tatura on (03) 5833 5700 and ask to speak to an Irrigation Modernisation Officer.Talk to bay outlet manufacturers and an irrigation surveyor and designer. It is also a good idea to talk to other farmers who have implemented this change in your local area.
Murray Dairy initiated trials in the 2010-2011 irrigation season to test some higher flow rates on various soil types. When available, the findings from these trials may be useful to irrigators.
My ideal dairy effluent system
Dairy effluent is legislated under the State Environment Protection Act 1970 (Waters of Victoria policy 1988) and states 'All dairy effluent from milking sheds shall be disposed of by land irrigation and avoid any pollution to surface waters or ground water'. This means all dairy effluent whether dryland or irrigation must be contained on the property and managed accordingly.
Some basic facts on dairy effluent that are handy to know:
- A 200 cow dairy farm produces on average around 3-5 megalitres (ML) of effluent per year depending on water usage.
- Effluent is a useful source of nutrients and water.
- On average a 200 cow dairy farm uses around 10,000 litres of water per day at the dairy shed depending on dairy shed type and number of milking units.
- On average 70 per cent of water used at the dairy is for yard wash.
The aim of an effective dairy effluent system is to return dairy effluent to the land in a controlled, sustainable and cost effective manner. Using the above information on legislation and basic facts we can start to analyse the optimum system and how best to manage it. A two pond system is generally the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly and productively beneficial system that can be installed.
A two pond effluent storage system allows control over the amount of effluent spread and the timing of spreading. It also allows spreading to meet plant requirements and to avoid runoff and leaching. The ability to effectively maximise the benefit of the stored nutrients for irrigation of crops and pasture and the option to recycle for yard wash are positives of the system.
Some advantages of a two pond system are:
- Effluent can be stored and applied to pastures and crops to maximise production.
- Effluent can be stored and applied when soil moisture is low to maximise production and minimise runoff.
- Workload can be reduced to a less busy time of the year.
- Cleaner second pond green water is available to recycle for yard washing, so storage pond size can be reduced if area is limiting.
- Fewer problems with blocked pipes.
- You can readily use a standard pump for irrigating second pond water.
- Effluent can be shandied with irrigation water during irrigation season, (generally recommend five parts irrigation to one part effluent).
- A wide range of pump options are suitable
- You can use a variety of options for first pond maintenance every two to three years
- Clean water is available to clean out the main line
- Recycling saves on $ for irrigation equipment.
Disadvantages of a two pond system are:
You need a suitable site that seals properly so no effluent goes to ground water. You may need to import clay or use a synthetic liner. Soil testing prior to excavation should be conducted to ensure that this type of structure is appropriate for the proposed site. A turkey nest may be required if ground water comes closer than one metre from the base of the planned pond. Take up space (lost grazing area). Nutrient contents are lower in second pond than from direct application. More capital is required, $1,300 - $1,800/ML depending on site characteristics.
The management of a two pond system
Management of First Pond (Anaerobic)
What is an anaerobic pond? – An anaerobic pond provides some degree of
treatment of effluent but is not suitable discharge to waterways. An anaerobic pond is deep enough to create an environment without oxygen where microbes break down organic matter.
How it works – Bacteria breaks the organic matter in to gases and sludge. How well the bacteria works depends on the temperature, pH and salinity. When a pond is working well there is no smell and gas bubbles can be seen on the surface and solids can be seen bubbling to the surface.
Sizing considerations – the size of an anaerobic pond depends on the solids entering the pond, period before de-sludging and temperature. All ponds must be constructed on low permeable soils to prevent leaching.
Management – An anaerobic pond needs to be de-sludged (with agitation) every three to five years depending on design criteria. The sludge component is where much of the nutrient wealth is stored.
Equipment required – How you intend to manage an anaerobic pond will dictate the type of equipment used. You may need a stirrer, pump, slurry tanker (to pump sludge between 5-10 per cent solids), or a excavator and muck spreader (to pump sludge over 20 per cent solids).
Management of Second Pond (Storage)
What is a storage pond? - A pond to store green water after treatment from the first pond (anaerobic) for a pre-determined period of time before the green water is either irrigated to pasture or crops or recycled for yard wash.
How does it work? - Green water is stored for a period of four to six months. The length of the storage period is usually determined by soil conditions, for example when the soil is waterlogged applying effluent will result in runoff of nutrients.
Sizing considerations – Storage ponds are sized related to water usage in the dairy, rainfall on the catchment that drains into the pond, storage period, and engineering freeboard.
Management – Effluent must be pumped out regularly during the drier period when safe to do so. However, the pond must be empty prior to the start of the storage period.
Equipment required – There is an array of equipment available to empty a storage pond. The equipment varies in price and how much time input is needed to maintain and run the system. You may need a stationary (electric and fuel driven) and P.T.O. driven irrigation pumps, stationary and travelling irrigators, and the correct sized pipes.
Pond Nutrient Concentrations
Over 600 effluent ponds have been tested in Gippsland in the last four years with little variation within the second ponds and a large variation within the first ponds for nutrient concentration. Therefore testing of individual effluent ponds is recommended if incorporating into a nutrient budget to get the best use of your effluent and the most cost effective management of your fertiliser regime.
Animal Heath Issues
Avoid applying effluent to areas young stock graze and implement other Johnnes disease management practices. Avoid applying effluent where cows are to be calved due to grass tetany and milk fever issues. When applying to pasture a withholding period of three weeks is a good rule of thumb.
Effluent System Safety
Dairy effluent ponds have the potential to be extremely hazardous. Farm children and employees need to be made aware of the hazards of effluent ponds and particular attention needs to be paid to warning visiting children. Ponds should be fenced and appropriate signs warning of deep water or showing relevant hazard symbols are also warranted. Eliminate or minimise the use of tractors near the ponds.
For further information see the Agnote 'Dairy Effluent: Building and Operating a Safe System' on the DEPI website (search AG0444 on www.depi.vic.gov.au), or contact Benita Kelsall, DEPI Dairy Extension Officer on (03) 5624 2218.
- Use strategies to keep the cows cool while the weather is hot so there are no set backs (in both the cows and young stock).
- Make sure stock have plenty of access to clean, cool water. On a hot day, a lactating cow can drink anywhere up to 150–200L/day.
- Check that the diet is meeting the requirements of stock. There are a number of indicators that can signal the need to check the balance of the diet.
- Check for pinkeye.
- Make sure immunisations are up to date and stock are drenched if required.
- It is time to start thinking about the areas that will be sown down in the autumn, and whether this will be done with irrigation or with the autumn break.
- Start getting organised for autumn fertiliser applications by working out what you need and ordering it so it'll be on hand when you need it.
- Plan to learn something new this season. Participate in one of the upcoming courses, field days or farm walks on around the region this month.
- Take a break, even if it's just for a couple of days. Plan it, and even send a deposit so that you are locked into going.
- Remember to carry the fire extinguisher on the tractor – you never know when you will need it.
- Don't exceed the lifting capacity of your frontend loader – some of the large square bales around are much heavier than bales you may be used to.
Cups On / Cups Off
Kerang—Monday 4 March 9:30am - 2:30pm, and Tuesday 5 March 9:30am - 12:30pm.
Quad Bike Operations
Pyramid Hill—Monday 18 March 9am - 4pm.
Rochester—Monday 25 March 9am - 4pm.
Calf Rearing Workshop
Tatura—Thursday 28 February and Thursday 7 March 10am - 3pm.
For more information please contact NCDEA, telephone 1300 062 332 or 0447 379 565.
People GPS—Employment workshop for Dairy Farmers
This course begins on Wednesday 6 March and runs for four consecutive Wednesdays, 10am to 3pm at the Kyabram Learning Centre.
For more information or to enrol please contact Carol McFadzean on (03) 5824 5535 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HERD '13 conference
Registrations are now open for the biennial Herd'13 conference which will be held in Bendigo on March 5 and 6.
The theme for the Herd '13 conference is 'celebrate, aspire, grow'. It offers an impressive line-up of Australian and international guest speakers and will include a celebration of 30 years of Australian Breeding Values.
For more information or to register, please visit www.adhis.com.au or contact the event organisers Esther Price Promotions on 1800 177 636.