AN organic dairy has been dredging deep to come up with an environmentally sound answer to its water needs.
Acorn Dairy in County Durham has just finished constructing a huge water lagoon which solves two separate issues in one.
Over the winter, when the ground is frozen, the farm has to manage the safe disposal of wash water from the dairy. Then in the spring grass growth can often be hit by drought affecting the quality of feed which is so crucial to the organic herd. To overcome both issues, the dairy has just completed a 1.5 million gallon lagoon, which will take and store the dirty but valuable waste water and rainwater from farm roofs and store it safely for up to seven months.
Then in the spring it will feed into the Archdeacon Newton farm’s irrigation system, keeping the nutrients on the farm and ensuring luscious grass for the dairy’s Shorthorn Crosses.
In keeping with the dairy farm’s organic ethos, the banks of the lagoon have been planted with wildflowers and grasses which will attract insects and boost the ecology of the area.
Director Caroline Tweddle said: “The lagoon is the perfect answer to a lot of our water issues and fits nicely with our ecological strategy.”
Her brother and fellow director Graham added: “We get through an awful lot of water and this is a great way to recycle, which is better for us and the environment. The lagoon will only store water, not slurry, and will be a great asset to our operations.”
Acorn Dairy operates farms at Archdeacon Newton, near Darlington, and Spennithorne, near Leyburn, and has seen flora and fauna return with a vengeance since it switched to organic production 10 years ago.
On the edge of Darlington, wetland areas, hedgerows, meadowland and deciduous woodland have become a haven for wildlife attracting insects, including dragonflies, damselflies, chasers, butterflies, an array of flora, aquatic life and countless birds.
A recent RSPB survey discovered 65 species in 200 acres including some on the threatened list; linnet, dunnock, greater spotted woodpecker, chiffchaff, curlew and cuckoo. There are also tawny owls, little owls and skylarks, sparrow hawks and snipe amongst many others.
Frogs and other aquatic life inhabit large ponds bounded by becks.
The dairy bottles 72,000 litres of milk a week for doorstep and retail customers from Northumberland to North Yorkshire. The business prides itself on not using any chemical or artificial fertilisers.