Subsurface Drip Irrigation Effluent for Dairy Producers SDI-E

Effluent Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI-E) for Dairy Producers


Recent years of drought, heat and new regulations have forced many ag producers to rethink operations. Flood irrigation has been one of the biggest casualties, often being replaced by some form of drip irrigation to conserve water. While the switch decreased the use of water, it created another challenge for many dairies–what to do with effluent previously applied via flood irrigation.

For dairies, effluent is a readily available free fertilizer. Until now, it hasn’t been practical to apply it with SDI (subsurface drip irrigation), mainly due to the challenges of accurately blending it with water and the risk of clogging the underground drip lines. Instead, dairies still needed to buy expensive synthetic fertilizer that could be applied through their drip system, while their manure filled lagoons grew larger and threatened to become a major liability.

Thanks to the cooperation of several California dairies, Netafim USA and Sustainable Conservation, we now have a proven SDI-E solution for Dairy Producers. Outlined below is an overview of SDI-E for Dairies and the steps for securing NRCS funding to help support the investment.

What is an SDI-E System?

A modified drip irrigation system that uses manure nutrients instead of synthetic fertilizers. It allows dairies to grow feed crops with less environmental impacts compared to flood irrigation and conventional drip systems. (Note: SDI-E stands for Subsurface Drip Irrigation – Eeffluent).

Watch the Video: SDI-E Overview from Netafim

Farmer Benefits
  • Increased quality and yields of feed crops
  • Reduced need for scarce water resources
  • Reduced need for expensive synthetic fertilizers
  • Increased water use efficiency
  • Reduced risk of polluting nearby water bodies
Climate Benefits
  • Reduced water use allows farmers to weather water use during periods of restrictions and droughts
  • Reduced nutrient use avoids polluting scarce water supplies
  • 90% reduction in GHG emissions (nitrous oxide / N2O)
Keys to SDI-E Success for Dairy Producers
  • 5 cows to 1 acre ratio for effective nutrient management
  • Use of 2 lagoons or settling ponds to help filter the effluent water
  • Netafim’s patented water/effluent precision blending controls
  • Use of sprinklers or flood irrigation for germination then transition to SDI
  • Well engineered effluent water intake system
  • Remote monitoring, control and data logging of the system
  • Operational focus on proper dripline function and maintenance

Download our Brochure: SDI-E Dairy Effluent Irrigation

NRCS Funding Process

Representatives from Cal-West Rain, Netafim and Sustainable Conservation can be available to assist with questions related to the NRCS process.

1. Ensure the Dairy is Prepared and has Appropriate Infrastructure:

  • 5 cows to 1 acre ratio for effective nutrient management
  • 2 lagoons or settling basins and some type of solid separation system
  • The use of sprinkler or flood irrigation to germinate then transition to SDI
  • Flexibility with tillage program
  • Can still use existing irrigation equipment but will need to adjust for spacing and depth

2. Contact Dairy’s Local NRCS Office to Confirm the Following:

  • Check to see if dairy meets current Farm Bill adjusted gross income requirements and the
    required paperwork has been filed (if not filed already)
  • Dairy will need to complete a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (if not already exists)

3. Dairy Works with Cal-West Rain to Design and Install the Complete System:

  • Cal-West Rain contacts are: Danny Briceno (South Valley) 559-537-6846 or Trever Dykstra (North Valley) 559-846-5326
  • Cal-West Rain designs manure SDI-E system customized for the dairy and setup
  • Cal-West Rain designs rotating solid separation screen system customized for the dairy

4. Schedule Appointment with Local NRCS Office to Complete:

  • Apply for manure SDI system 75% cost-share funding under; 441 Irrigation System, Microirrigation – SDI, Manure — Bring in quote and design documents
  • Apply for rotating solid separation screen under; 632 Waste Separation Facility – Separator, Vibratory or Rotary Screen — Bring in quote and design documents

Download our Brochure: SDI-E Dairy Effluent Irrigation

To learn more or get started with your SDI-E project, contact Danny Briceno (South Valley) 559-537-6846 or Trever Dykstra (North Valley) 559-846-5326 with Cal-West Rain. Since 1989, Cal-West Rain has served farmers in California’s Central Valley through the design, construction, service, and maintenance of innovative irrigation and pump systems.

Note: This material is based upon work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-3A75-17-53. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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