Support workshops to help with flash flood recovery for Victorian farms

A series of Agriculture Victoria workshops will be held in March, targeted at supporting producers recovering from the December flash flooding and ongoing dry conditions.

Two workshops will be held in March in collaboration with the North East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA).

In addition, farmers can contact Agriculture Victoria if they would like to engage in a free one on one consultation to assist in planning for the months ahead.

State agriculture minister Jaclyn Symes said that the Victorian government was encouraging farmers to attend.

“We recognise the significant impact the December flood had on many landholders in Northern Victoria and that’s why Agriculture Victoria has been on the ground from day one, supporting farmers and the community to recover from the flooding,” Symes said.

“In addition to these workshops, Agriculture Victoria is also offering affected farm businesses a one-on-one consultation to assist them to manage the impacts of the flash flooding and continuing dry seasonal conditions.”

Topic experts will present at the workshops on farm water planning and management, planning on-farm fodder production, livestock nutritional requirements and feed budgeting through 2019.

The first workshop will focus on options for farm water management and will be held at Rutherglen on Monday 4 March.

The second workshop will focus on options for fodder production, livestock nutritional requirements, feed budgeting and planning ahead for the Autumn break.

The second workshop will be held in the flood impacted area at Tarrawingee on Monday 18 March.

The Victorian government is currently offering On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants of up to $5,000 to producers within Northern Victoria, including the shires impacted by the December flooding, to improve drought management and preparedness.

Assistance was made available to flood impacted farmers and the community through a range of mechanisms including Emergency Relief Assistance Payments, which provide up to $540 per adult and $270 per child (up to a maximum of $1,890 per eligible household) to help meet immediate needs, including emergency food, shelter, clothing, and personal items.

Aerofloat takes the pressure off managing wastewater costs and regulations

In Australia, wastewater is highly regulated and comes at a cost for companies, such as those in the food and beverage industry, who produce it. This is a necessary step the government takes to minimise its environmental impact.

Food and beverage manufacturers – be they dairies, breweries, bakeries, abattoirs, wineries or smallgoods makers – know that wastewater is an unavoidable part of running a business. But, wastewater treatment and/or disposal can be expensive and difficult to manage.

Aerofloat, an Australian wastewater treatment company, offers some innovative, cost-effective systems to help reduce these unavoidable costs.

Wastewater contains contaminants that, if not properly handled, will have negative environmental impacts. These contaminants can be suspended solids such as fats, oils and greases, or soluble contaminants such as dissolved proteins, dissolved sugars, and dissolved alcohol.

Aerofloat can help with the nitty and gritty

Aerofloat managing director Ray Anderson encourages companies to research systems rather than taking the first, and cheapest, one that comes along.

“There’s a lot more to a wastewater treatment plant than just the hardware, the tanks and equipment. How it’s designed, put together, and the expertise of people within the business, are critical for a successful outcome.”

Aerofloat offers two main wastewater treatment systems – Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) and Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR).

The unique designs of these two systems, combined with the company’s inhouse knowledge of chemical flocculation and biological treatment processes, ensures the systems work effectively to meet contaminant discharge standards and save businesses money, said Anderson.

A glimpse at the Aerofloat DAF

Large scale food manufacturers use large volumes of water. By law, they have to sanitise all of their equipment, tanks and floors. To do this, they use a lot of emulsifiers, caustic cleaners, chlorine bleaches and other chemicals.

“In the process of all that cleaning, they tend to emulsify all of the fats, oils, and grease and a lot of the suspended solids. Because of that if you put it through a grease trap nothing will happen. It just goes straight through,” said Anderson.

For this reason, when Aerofloat installs a DAF system, the company makes sure the wastewater is effectively chemically treated first. “We put in up-front storage tanks, which are mixed and which blend the water and hydraulically balance the water from hour to hour,” he said.

“In these holding tanks, where we balance and blend the water, we adjust the pH to an optimal level and then add coagulant chemicals to break these emulsions,” said Anderson.

This makes the separation process of fats, oils, greases and suspended solids a lot more complete, he said.

“Some people think they can just put in DAFs and remove the contaminants. This is normally not the case. You’ve got to understand the chemistry and look at each individual case on its merits and what the nature of the waste is,” he said.

The Aerofloat DAF features a unique design that has no mechanical scrapers and keeps odours away. “We have a sealed tank and we rely on the hydraulics of the water coming in to remove the contaminants off the top of the tank. Our systems are totally enclosed and sealed which is good if you happen to get any odour in the system. It’s easy to vent into the atmosphere with pipes above the roof line,” said Anderson.

The Aerofloat DAF comes in a range of sizes to suit different operations and wastewater flowrates. The smallest in the range, the Aerofloat 100, can treat up to six cubic metres per hour. The Aerofloat 800 can handle larger scale wastewater treatment needs of up to 50 cubic metres per hour.

A look at the moving bed biofilm reactor

Moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBR) are biological systems used to remove soluble contaminants from wastewater. While this technology has been around for some time, the Aerofloat MBBR is different to other systems.

To provide oxygen for the microorganisms Aerofloat developed a unique aeration manifold that can easily be removed and maintained without stopping the system or emptying the tanks. They were also built in low cost polyethylene tanks, Anderson said.

MBBR is a process whereby wastewater is aerated in the presence of micro-organisms, which grow

on the surface of little plastic media particles. The large surface area of these particles – roughly 15mm in diameter X 12mm high – makes this possible. Through this process, the soluble contaminants break down.

“We have aeration devices that enable aeration lancers to be injected into the tank from the bottom, externally and by using a system of valves and O rings, we can insert or remove those while the system is still operating without shutting it down for maintenance or cleaning purposes. That’s quite a benefit,” said Anderson.

Both Aerofloat systems are suited to the food and beverage manufacturing sector, he said. They are compact and can be put in small areas. If something goes wrong with the process, or if they experience an overload, they can be vented to the atmosphere to minimise odour emissions.

“In addition, we tend to be cost effective. Our products are very competitive in the market place and can be installed for lower prices than most of our competitors,” said Anderson.

Maintenance costs

Of course, when considering installing wastewater systems, businesses need to consider ongoing costs and maintenance. Due to the simplicity of the design, Aerofloat wastewater systems prove to be sound investments for these ongoing requirements, said Anderson.

“Ongoing costs include the cost of chemicals such as the supply of coagulants and polymers,” he said. “As well as the costs of the electricity for running mixers, feed pumps, circulation pumps and air blowers. We can provide expert advice by remotely logging into the systems and providing ongoing service and maintenance contracts to ensure operators get the benefit of our knowledge and experience.”

Helping companies beyond installing a wastewater system is a key feature provided by Aerofloat.

The company launched a chemical supply and plant servicing business in mid-2018 in response to market demands for a simple and cost-effective way to maintain systems.

The services are available to all industries which have a wastewater treatment plant that requires chemicals or ongoing maintenance.

Aerofloat’s engineers hand-pick the best chemicals for use in wastewater systems to ensure optimal performance, while minimising long-term costs.

Having the correct chemistry in wastewater treatment systems is imperative to the quality of effluent achieved. This step affects the performance of the overall wastewater system. Wastewater treatment plants that are regularly serviced have minimal downtime and maximum efficiency.

Aerofloat’s servicing business offers weekly, monthly and ad hoc wastewater system servicing contracts, for businesses unable to provide regular maintenance themselves. The service technicians can diagnose and prevent potential problems, replace worn parts at a competitive rate, carry out system cleaning and as an option, install remote login capabilities to identify problems and provide advice.

With Aerofloat caring for businesses’ wastewater systems from start to finish, this allows companies to focus on their core business.  Effective management of the wastewater treatment plant reduces environmental impact, optimises operational costs and prolongs the longevity of the plant.

Using water wisely in the food sector

If Australia is to continue its agricultural tradition and also take advantage of future food opportunities, we can’t afford to waste our natural resources. As Matthew McDonald reports, Xylem Water Solutions can help make sure we don’t.

According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, Australia produces three times the amount of food we need to sustain our population. Quite a feat for the driest continent on Earth, in large part this can be attributed to how we use that most important natural resource, water.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics state that in 2014-15 agriculture was far and away the biggest consumer of water in Australia. The sector accounted for 10,410 gigalitres or 59.9 per cent of all water consumed. Next on the list was water supply, sewerage and drainage services at 2,163 gigalitres (12.4 per cent).

For the same period, Australian households consumed 1,852 gigalitres (10.7 per cent) of all water, while manufacturing accounted for 595 gigalitres (3.4 per cent) of water consumed.

Things are looking up for Australian food. The rise of the Asian middle class, combined with recently-signed free trade agreements and our “clean, green” image overseas mean that demand for our food is growing.

However, at the same time, our own population growth and the uncertainties of climate change mean that it won’t be all smooth sailing for farmers and food makers. If we are to fully capitalise on future opportunities, we are going to have to use water wisely.

Xylem Water Solutions

Jim Athanas, managing director Oceania Xylem Water Solutions, knows something about wise water usage. “That’s our ultimate purpose and goes to our tag line which is ‘Let’s solve water’,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.

US-headquartered Xylem was created five and a half years ago as a spinoff of ITT, a manufacturer of highly engineered, critical components and customised technology solutions for the energy, transportation and industrial markets. The company is made up of about 30 brands, some of which have been around for 50-plus years, which share a focus on water management solutions across a range of industries.

“The end game of what we do is to build a sustainable world. Our commitment is that we care more,” said Athanas. “We care more for our people; we care more for our customers; we care about doing things sustainably through commercial excellence. We look at being innovative and creative and we also want to enrich our environment by creating sustainable communities.”

The Lowara GHV series booster sets are fully automatic booster sets for water supply.
The Lowara GHV series booster sets are fully automatic booster sets for water supply.

 

 

Focusing on food and beverages, he explained that the company provides water management solutions for all stages of the production process.

“From the farm to the fork you need to irrigate plants and livestock to provide food. Whether you’re a farmer growing wheat or you’ve got cattle, water is essential,” he said.

“Then all the way through the processing plant, whether you’re using it for heating, cooling, utility needs water, or as a raw material. We transport water to where it’s needed. We treat it so it’s suitable for use and also monitor and control it to make sure it’s of the right purity, the right quality and the right quantity.”

Products and applications

Some Xylem brands used by the agricultural industry and food manufacturers include Flygt submersible pumps and mixers, Lowara centrifugal pumps, Wedeco UV and ozone disinfection systems, Sanitaire aeration and wastewater treatment products, WTW online water quality monitoring equipment and Jabsco hygienic rotary lobe and flexible impeller pumps.

“We manufacture equipment to treat water to a potable standard, treat wastewater for reuse or to a standard safe enough to return to the environment, transport water and other liquids to where it is needed and monitor water usage and water quality,” George Anastasiadis, national business development manager of Xylem Water Solutions Australia told Food & Beverage Industry News.

The food and agricultural industries rely on the company’s solutions to not only supply water, but also to treat and analyse wastewater, sometimes under challenging conditions. For example, irrigators use borehole pumps to transport water from dams, rivers or lakes. This water needs to be transported by piped or multistage, end-suction pumps to the crops or livestock that need it.

Elsewhere, manure handling is a significant challenge when dealing with livestock such as poultry. Flygt provides liquid manure technology as well as submersible chopper pumps to handle this.

As Anastasiadis pointed out, dairy processors typically experience high organic loads in their effluent streams that need to be treated prior to discharge into municipal sewage systems or receiving bodies of water.

“A combination of anaerobic systems followed by Xylem’s aerobic biological treatment systems will reduce COD/BOD effectively while minimising footprint and reducing maintenance through advanced process controls,” he said.

He pointed out that fruit washing applications benefit from water reuse through Xylem’s tertiary treatment technologies. “For example, our UV and ozone disinfection technologies are applied to chlorine-resistant microorganisms like Cryptosporidium and Giardia without concern for disinfection by-products,” he said.

Wastewater discharge limits pose a challenge for meat processing plants due to the high organics, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the wastewater stream. “Xylem’s aerobic biological treatment technologies can be utilised to bring COD and BOD into compliance while improving on-site economics,” said Anastasiadis.

UV disinfection systems

With so many brands under the Xylem banner, new product releases are frequent. Anastasiadis was pleased to highlight one new range, Wedeco Spektron Industrial UV Disinfection Systems, which have been designed specifically for food and beverage manufacturers.

Process water disinfection, he explained, is important to the industry because it helps ensure products are fit for consumption. The use of UV for disinfection has the added benefit of providing high levels of effectiveness without adding unwanted taste or odour.

The systems deliver efficient and environmentally sustainable disinfection via closed-vessel UV reactors. Their features include a smooth electro-polished inner surface finish <0.8 µm Ra, hygienic flanges (DIN 11864-2 or tri clamp), a compact stainless-steel control cabinet, and FDA compliant seals.

Towards a sustainable future

Athanas said that Australia is at a crossroads. Pointing to the Murray-Darling scheme, which has not only failed to secure the water supply of the eastern states but also opened up claims of non-compliance and rorting, he said that Australia needs a stronger national water framework.

“Whether you’re a cotton farmer, a dairy farmer, or you run a processing plant in an urban environment, there’s competing priorities for that precious resource,” he said. “It’s the availability of the right quality and quantity that puts pressure on the entire food chain. From the farm all the way back to your home to get that breakfast cereal on the table takes a lot of water.”

Xylem Water Solutions, he said, has an important role to play in ensuring this precious resource is used wisely.