During the period of 2008/2009 water shortages intensified creating a problem for dairy farmers. In many cases, farmers turned to trucking in fresh water to their farms. This was a time consuming and costly exercise. The main objective of this project was to demonstrate that water could be extracted from cow’s milk on site and be used for cleaning machinery and other purposes minimising the reliance on fresh water for farmers.
The practice of removing water from milk is not new; particularly for manufacturing plants. The challenge for this project was to demonstrate that with careful and specific design parameters, downsizing existing technologies of removing water from milk could be made into a size practical and workable for a medium sized dairy.
The purpose of this project was to design, manufacture, install and operate a small scale pilot plant on a dairy farm in Gippsland to demonstrate the concept of re-use options for water removed from milk. The beneficial use of the extracted water was the main focus of this project.
In summary the key requirements were as follows:
- Removes up to 50 per cent of water from the raw milk;
- milk quality not to be negatively effected;
- pilot plant to be portable;
- preferably the size of the farm to be between 250 – 1000 milking cows;
- the system is to be easily operated and user friendly;
- the system to have simple and cost effective maintenance requirements;
- demonstrate practical end uses for extracted water;
- optimise energy efficiency.
Results from this project showed that it is feasible to economically extract water on a dairy farm and to utilise the extracted water for beneficial use such as milk machinery and yard cleaning, irrigation, pre cooling and potential animal drinking water. Preliminary assessments have identified payback periods for the system to be in the order of one to two years.
The project found that there exists a real opportunity to further develop the system to optimise the operation and to customise the system to suit the specific needs of the demonstration dairy farm.