ROOFS over saleyards have been a big game changer in terms of effluent management but still there are significant efficiencies to be gained.
Biogas is one area where experts in this field see untapped potential.
Senior engineer with facility designers Wiley, Heath Barker, says any saleyard manager not processing wastewater and getting all the available benefits from it, is losing out.
Mr Barker spoke at the recent National Saleyards Expo in Casino on the latest trends in effluent management and why it counts when it comes to running a profitable and sustainable livestock marketing facility.
Big investments have been made around the country in recent years constructing saleyard roofs and that has delivered large areas unaffected by rainwater which means facilities can then look at management and animal welfare improvements like soft flooring.
But it has also meant far less runoff to deal with and far more rainwater captured and available for re-use - for the likes of holding for fire fighting, dust mitigation and even watering cattle, Mr Barker said.
“One thing to note is that the effluent you do have to deal with becomes quite concentrated because there is little dilution happening,” he said.
Typically, there were three streams of effluent produced at a saleyard, he explained.
They are the runoff from hosing down floors, from rain and storm water and from truck washing.
“Waste streams need to be treated and that depends on what rules are in play for your facility but the typical processes are screening out the big solids, breaking down the organics with bacteria, removing nitrogen and phosphorus, then disinfecting and recycling.”
Many industrial sites are now installing covered anaerobic lagoon (CAL) systems, which both reduce emissions and capture biogas as an on-site renewable energy source, Mr Barker reported.
Existing anaerobic lagoons can be easily covered with high-density polyethylene to capture the biogas being released, which can then be utilised as a fuel to generate energy in the form of heat, electricity or both.
“It allows you to generate an energy source you didn’t have before, which offsets an energy source you were paying for, and at the same time it reduces carbon emissions,” Mr Barker said.
“For a saleyard, that equates to some very interesting opportunities ahead for turning waste streams into sustainable resources”
Recent projects Wiley has been involved in have seen CAL systems generate up to half a megawatt of power a day.
The bottom line?
“Don’t waste your wastewater. It’s a valuable resource that, like saleyard roofs, could be the next industry game changer,” said Mr Barker.