Sustainable farming – what is it?

Yesterday as a guest of Trevor and Anne-Marie Mills and the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network I attended a field day on the Mills’ dairy farm at Drouin South. Amongst the principles of sustainable agriculture are that farming should: – provide an amenable lifestyle for the farmer & family – protect and enhance the productive…

Farm water supply investigation

A preliminary investigation was carried out on the quality of water in two dams on a dairy farm in West Gippsland. The dams are a short distance apart in the same gully. The Upper dam is spring fed and can overflow into the Lower dam. The water was tested during summer. At that time the…

Effluent management on a dairy farm

For the last few weeks I’ve been visiting a dairy farm in West Gippsland to learn a bit more about how dairy farms work. It’s also an opportunity to apply some ideas about soil and water management in a practical context. Cows can deposit around 8 – 10% of manure and urine output around the…

My tank drinking water smells, what can I do?

One of the frequent problems seen in water tanks is smelly water. This can occur in above and below ground tanks and includes rain water tanks. People often describe the smell of their water as musty, decaying or like ammonia or rotten eggs. It can be just a little bit off-putting or in some cases…

Water pollution case study

Contamination of waters by organic matter including manures is a type of water pollution. Excessive organic matter load in water is likely to cause a number of changes including: Higher turbidity High decomposition rate leading to elevated carbon dioxide and lowered oxygen, Undesirable intermediate products of decomposition including nitrite and ammonia. Elevated nutrient levels Elevated…

Investigating water quality

Water quality standards like the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines often set the upper limit for contaminants like metals and organic chemicals. The Guidelines mention dozens if not hundreds of potential contaminants. But in many cases it is not clear at what level a particular chemical becomes a health hazard. For example it will depend on…

Water quality indicators

At Apps Laboratories we measure a range of factors in water samples.¬† Some like dissolved metals can be compared directly to the Australian Water Quality¬† Guidelines. Others like salinity indicate what the water can be used for for example depending on the salt tolerance of irrigated crops. More often we want to give the landowner…

Boosted reverse osmosis filter for farms

One of the problems with many homes in rural areas is that there is not enough pressure from pressure pumps to run a reverse osmosis filter system. Reverse osmosis filters work by pushing water against a very fine membrane. Only a proportion of the water, usually 1/4 to 1/3 gets through, leaving behind most salts…

ORP in water – what does it mean?

Recently a couple of bore water samples came through the lab. By coincidence although they came from very different locations they had some distinct similarities. These were elevated dissociated carbon dioxide, elevated soluble iron and elevated manganese. But they both had another similarity – low ORP or redox value. The sample with the highest metal…

What’s in water?

Water testing is a little bit like problem solving. Most people want to know if there are any underlying issues that may affect their water quality. For example if there are higher than expected numbers of bacteria, if there are dissolved metals present or if there is any contamination from organic chemicals. Most test results…