Cows do a LOT of poo. About 40 litres of the green stuff per day (that’s besides number ones). Because they spend all their time grazing in paddocks, most of it goes straight back onto the grass as nature’s own organic fertiliser. The stuff that gets dropped onto the yard twice a day while they’re waiting to be milked is a different matter, though. It would be environmentally wrong and illegal to let it run into waterways, so this yard manure is hosed into large ponds for storage and digestion by aerobic and anaerobic bugs.
When it’s dry during summer and autumn, we pump the effluent on to paddocks using a little travelling irrigator hooked up to a fire-fighting pump. The effluent is full of great nutrients and beneficial bugs, we save trucking in inorganic fertiliser (not to mention the concept of peak phosphorous) and avoid polluting our rivers. When the pond is just TOO full for me and the irrigator to keep up with, we engage a contractor to come and pump it out and spread it with a huge tanker.
That’s been something of a challenge this year. The tractor and fully laden tanker weigh about 45 tonnes and, because summer was so wet, access has been very limited. In fact, they just can’t get in at the moment. The effluent spreader shook his head and suggested calling for some rock. The quarry owner shook his head and suggested calling in the grader, excavator and the bank manager. I just hung my head and looked at my boots. Then, my lightbulb moment! If I can’t get the track to the pond, bring the pond to the tanker! I’m getting the excavator in to extend the pond so it’s really close to an existing cow track. Mark, the excavator supremo, expects it to be here in a couple of weeks, so I should have some boys’ toys pics up then.