Farmers cut water use in half 


A win for the environment and for their business’ bottom-line, Randall and Erica Mair have halved the water used to clean their dairy.

The husband and wife farmer-duo lease their 350-herd farm in Scott’s Creek in Victoria’s west and have supplied milk to Fonterra since early 2016.

In a rather unique approach to on-farm investment, the Mairs and the farm owners looked for ways to upgrade the farm to make it more sustainable and efficient into the future.

The Mairs looked at the water and effluent management on their lease farm, and found that a lot of fresh water was being used to wash the yards after milking and it was largely going to waste. The job was also both labour and time intensive.

New infrastructure including tanks and hydrants, as well as a water recycling system, has seen the Mairs save a whopping 4.2 megalitres (over 4 million litres) of fresh water every year.

Water used to wash the yards, which previously went to waste, is now captured in a central point and funnels into the first of two effluent dams. 

The solids in the water are digested in the dam, and the cleaner water then flows into a second dam where it is pumped into a tank and used to wash the yards again.

In Scott’s Creek, where there isn’t access to underground water and locals mostly rely on rain water they can store, the water-saving benefits will go a long way. But the wins don’t stop there – a job that used to take 40 minutes each milking, and a lot of physical labour to pull the hose around the yard, now takes only 10 minutes and is automatic.

The Mairs have seen real benefits all round and continue to monitor their on-farm water usage, helping them feel more in control of the sustainability and profitability of their farm.