Commercial Water Conservation: Are Farmers Using Too Much?
Dairy farms in the UK may want to prioritise commercial water conservation in the future after hearing one associate professor of water conservation’s opinion that farmers are using more water than necessary.
Dr David Campbell, who works for Heriot-Watt University, looked into companies’ water use and found that out of 27 liquid milk producers, only three used water excellently, while seven used it poorly.
Cheese makers, meanwhile, were found to be the least average of those in the dairy sector with just three sites using water resources averagely.
Dr Campbell explained that approximately 40.9 billion litres of water are used annually in order to produce 14 billion litres of milk, so there’s definitely room for improvement. He went on to say he is now keen to meet with representatives from within the industry in a bid to help them cut their water usage.
By prioritising water efficiency, bills could be slashed by 30 per cent, he continued, saying that this should serve as an extra incentive to dairy producers, as well as improving the industry’s sustainability credentials.
The aim of his benchmarking process is to drive performance by comparing companies with those that are doing better. Dr Campbell observed that more than 60 per cent of producers use water inefficiently at the moment, which is down to old or inappropriate systems and processes, as well as the lack of benchmarking of performance over a period of time.
“Water is used for drinking, cleaning and cooling in the dairy sector. The ever-increasing cost of water, more stringent regulatory regimes and the high cost of energy for pumping and processing milk means dairy producers will benefit from optimal use of water.
“This isn’t about introducing new regulation or burdensome tasks – it’s about saving money for these producers and increasing sustainability. We can tell from data that some producers already use water conservation measures, and those who use the highest amounts of water might simply be unaware that they are at the upper end of the chart. At the moment, there’s no way for them to know,” Dr Campbell said.
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