Flow meters tested on dairy lagoon water
Larry Schwankl, UC Davis
Alison Eagle, Kearney Agricultural Center
Carol A. Frate, Tulare County Cooperative Extension
Ben Nydam, Dellavalle Laboratory
California Agriculture 57(3):93-96. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v057n03p93.
As California's dairy industry continues to grow, manure management has become an increasingly important issue for dairy producers, government regulators and the public living in close proximity to dairies. Dairies are increasingly required to prepare nutrient management plans and comply with regulations concerning their manure management practices. A common dairy practice in California is to house the cows in free stall barns with water flush systems to remove the manure. The manure flush water, high in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, is collected in holding ponds until it can be combined with freshwater and applied to cropland during irrigation. Being able to quantify the amount of manure water applied is critical to good nutrient management of crops. The high trash and debris content of manure water has precluded the use of most flow meters commonly used in agriculture, such as the propeller meter. A field test of electromagnetic flow meters and a Doppler flow meter determined that both were accurate, dependable and appropriate for measuring manure-water flow rates. Their drawbacks are price ($3,000 to $4,000) and the need for electrical power for permanent flow-meter installations.
L. Schwankl is Irrigation Specialist, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis; A. Eagle was Dairy BIFS Project Coordinator, Kearney Agricultural Center; C. Frate is Farm Advisor, Tulare County Cooperative Extension; B. Nydam is Consultant, Dellavalle Laboratory.