Dairy farmers could make considerable savings on water costs – even those in low rainfall areas, believes Steven Powell of the Environment Agency.
While some dairy farmers are sceptical about using rainwater for cattle drinking troughs and concerned about possible disease risk, including leptospirosis, the EA says collected water can make a valuable contribution to mains supplies used for dairy and yard washings.
“And now dairy farmers can use recycled water for closed-loop cooling which enables water used for plate coolers to be collected and reused for further plate cooling or for other uses within the dairy unit,” advises Mr Powell.
“But while milk producers in the wetter areas of the west have no problem in collecting substantial amounts of rainwater, those in drier parts of the UK are often hesitant about the benefits.
They often struggle to believe their annual rainfall warrants the investment required in equipment and storage tanks,” he adds.
He advises dairy farmers to consult the EA’s own publication Waterwise on the Farm to find out detailed information about how to calculate how much water can be saved relevant to the farm’s location and rainfall.
Setting up a small-scale water collection system to look at its benefits is the best way to evaluate on-farm rainwater harvesting, says the EA.
“Dairy farmers with large herds consume considerable amounts of water and some feel they don’t have the roof space to provide enough rainwater run-off to meet their needs.
“But there is always potential to consider roofing-over some of the farm’s open-yard areas to increase the amount of rainwater collected.”