The Waikato Regional Council has responded to concerns about water security in the Waikato region with a plan variation (Variation 6) which aims to delivery efficient allocation and use of water in the region. In response to this, farmers will be required to install water meters and closely monitor usage, reporting monthly water usage to the Council. The data collected will be used to better understand the use of water on dairy farms and to improve water efficiency.
Andy Pappas runs the Le Cornu dairy farm in Morrinsville, New Zealand. Following the introduction of Variation 6 to Waikato’s Regional Plan, Andy was given a water allowance of 18,000 litres average usage per day based on a herd of 263 cows. This figure breaks down to an allowance of 70 litres per cow per day.
Andy installed 2 Watersave SUMS Indigo data loggers on his dairy farm to monitor and manage water usage and comply with the new allowances put forward by Variation 6.
- One Watersave Indigo data logger was installed on the water meter, monitoring water use at the main water tank. Water to this tank is pumped from an underground aquifer and the tank supplies 56 toughs, two houses and to the dairy when milking.
- A second Indigo data logger was installed in the dairy shed on a meter used for activities such as cooling the milk and washing down dairy after milking. The logger located in the dairy shed is a sub-meter of the water tank meter
Just a few hours after installation, the Watersave SmartMeter identified significant leaks. The Main Meter was registering daily use in excess of 28,900 litres, revealing an average water use of 120 litres per cow per day. This figure is 46 litres above the recommended daily allowance per animal.
Andy traced the water leaks to a number of faulty ball valves in water troughs scattered across the paddocks and to two large underground leaks. Andy discovered these leaks by tracing the water line and estimating where pipes would run, and found two ‘wet spots’ in a paddock (approximately 300 metres apart) indicating a below the ground leak.
Andy credits the use of the Watersave SmartMeter’s alarm and alert system as the key contributing factor to his farm’s rapid decrease in water usage. The Watersave SmartMeter has allowed the Le Cornu Dairy Farm to significantly minimise water loss and reduce the risk of unknown leakages. Andy finds the Watersave SmartMeter’s SMS text and email alert system very effective in detecting and managing excess water usage. He states that ‘the SmartMeter’s excellent visual representation makes it easy to monitor the situation by simply logging in on a computer or smartphone.’ He also enjoys being able to manage the limits himself, and that the SmartMeter information is also readily available to his sharemilker.
Andy now aims to connect the Watersave SmartMeter’s to monitor electricity use at the main tank pumps and in the dairy shed. This will allow Le Cornu Farm to manage water and energy use on the farm thereby reducing operating costs per cow per day.
Graph illustrating the reduction in water use at Le Cornu Farm in NZ after the installation of Watersave SUMS for improved water management in farmingadmin