Using Milkhouse Waste Water for Alternative Cash Crop

Final Report for FNE99-231

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1999: $3,750.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2001
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
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Project Information


A 4 inch sewer pipe was installed to pipe the milk house waste water to the wetland cell area. This pipe then drops the water into a well tile which serves as a settling basin. Debris and some of the milk solids tend to accumulate here. This can later be pulled out and added to a compost pile if necessary. The water portion then overflows the well tile and goes into a bed of bark chips which further filter the water and can also be composted in later years should this decompose significantly. Finally the water flows into a bed of cattails (Typha angustifolia) which were planted in a bed of sand six inches deep. The cattails have grown quite well in the milk house waste water. Excess water would leave the cattail growing bed via 4 inch pipe to a designated grass filter area at the low end of our pasture. This area is fenced off from grazing and established as a wildlife area. The system seems to be sized well for the amount of waste water produced. We have not had any water leave the system through the over flow pipe. We assume that evaporation and utilization by the plants has been adequate. The waste water does accumulate in the winter but subsides in spring as the cattails resume growth. It probably would not be an adequate system for us if we continued full production in the winter time. We have not done water quality tests on the discharged water, as there hasn't been any water flowing from the discharge pipe. Our pasture area is not well drained and cattle are no longer walking through the milk house waste. Our assumption is that the soils and the stream have derived similar benefit from the containment and filtration of the milk house waste. The cattails have grown well despite great fluctuation in water levels seasonally. They have not yet born the "cattail" which we may be able to market for floral arrangements. We expect that this year (2001) they will start to produce these seed heads.


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  • Kevin Kaija


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.