Tell a dairy farmer you could clean up their effluent pond with a device that emits radio waves and you’d likely be met, at best, with scepticism.
But a growing number of Canterbury farmers say locally developed technology that does just that is achieving remarkable results for them.
“We decided to do a trial on one of our effluent ponds and in six weeks you could see the crust breaking up and in 10 weeks it had pretty much cleared,” Brendon Stent, who oversees Pāmu’s five Canterbury dairy farms, says.
The first effluent pond in the two-pond system on one of the farms hadn’t been working well, with a thick crust forming on the surface and solids that should have been settling to the bottom getting into the pipe that links it to the second pond and blocking it regularly.
“The guys were leaning out to stick pipes through to it unblock it, which is a health and safety risk, and when we went back to the designer, they said we needed to put gates out there to stop the solids building up. It just wasn’t working.”
HydroBoost co-owner Michael Dennis supplied the farm with a 24V unit that sits inside a raft that floats on the pond, emitting low frequency radio waves. He says these stimulate biological activity in the effluent and accelerate its breakdown.
Before and after photos show a remarkable transformation. On day one the pond is covered in a thick, green crust. Sixty-three days later the crust has gone and in places bubbles rise to the surface, an indication, Dennis says, of the biological activity happening beneath.
“I just want to ensure that I’m helping to make this planet a bit better and this product got a lot of those ticks for me – it’s low-powered, it’s stimulating biological activity, we have proven customers, and it’s built and developed in New Zealand,” he says.
“You’ve just seen one on farm – and I can tell you there are other farms like that where we’re seeing the same sort of things.”
The device was developed by retired farmer Michael Richards, who Dennis met at a South Island field day a couple of years ago, when he was promoting it.
“He spent 11 or 12 years developing it, put his own money into it, pretty much blood, sweat and tears, and now we’re seeing the results. It uses radio energy and he did some research and started to put some things together. Being a farmer he’s resourceful,” says Dennis, now a partner in the business.
Asked to explain how it works, Dennis quotes United States academic Dr Gerald Pollack who theorises that water has a “fourth dimension”, different from its liquid, solid or vapour forms, and radio waves can unlock this dimension to create “structured water” that has “similar energy and vitality as rainwater”.
This “activated” water is said to enhance bio-activity.
“Some people believe it, some people don’t,” says Dennis who also sells HydroBoost units to treat water. He’s used to getting sceptical reactions.
“We did an installation in July on a farm down south and I knew one of the people with the installers. I said, ‘This thing is going to help clean that pond up’, and he was looking at the unit and said, ‘That’s really interesting’, but behind his eyes you could see he was thinking, ‘Run away now Michael, don’t embarrass yourself’.
“I saw him again about five weeks later and he said, ‘I didn’t believe you, I didn’t think it would work, but what I’ve seen now is one of the most innovative pieces of technology I’ve seen in the last 15 years’. He was really super-impressed.”
The unit on the Pāmu dairy farm, including the raft, cost about $9400 including GST.
“It’s one tool, it’s not the magic bullet, but it’s one tool that helps make a difference,” says Dennis. “It actually has solved definite problems, it’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s something that’s working.”
This article first appeared in the October edition of our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.