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Advancing Technology: New Project Targets Methane Reduction In Dairy Effluent Ponds

A new project led by Lincoln University and Ravensdown marks the next step towards providing farmers with a cost-effective tool to reduce methane emissions from effluent storage ponds.

Professor Keith Cameron of Lincoln University says emissions from effluent ponds are the second-largest source of on-farm methane emissions from the dairy sector.

“Effluent storage ponds are a crucial part of dairy farms, and we hope to provide farmers with a new technology to reduce their methane emissions using the EcoPond effluent treatment system.

“This project will further refine this technology based on encouraging early research results.

“Lincoln University’s published research shows that treating effluent with iron sulphate can reduce methane emissions by over 90 per cent.”

Professor Hong Di says, “Not only can it contribute to lowering emissions- it will also help reduce freshwater contamination from phosphate and E. coli bacteria.

“Although the EcoPond system is not yet commercially available, this project enables the Lincoln University team to build on previous small-scale trials. The researchers will work with farmers to refine the technology, and then with Ravensdown to develop a commercial, cost-effective version of the technology that farmers can use.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries is co-investing $2.9 million in the project through the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions, with support from Ravensdown.

Professor Cameron says the new funding will enable the research work to be expanded nationally to measure the potential of EcoPond treatment in different regions of the country and different dairy farm systems. EcoPond treatment technology will also continue to be tested in different seasons to quantify the benefits throughout the year.

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Peter Hancox, Manager of the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) says that they have had an experimental EcoPond unit working on Lincoln University Dairy Farm for approximately 3 months.

“We have noticed a big change in our effluent pond, it looks very clean, and we no longer have a crust on top of the pond.

“We have also noticed a big reduction in the smell coming from the pond.

“From my perspective, it has been very interesting seeing EcoPond in the development stages on farm and I see this technology having a big benefit on farms in the future.”

Lincoln University measuring methane emissions on LUDF effluent pond

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