The inefficient use of water on dairy farms is costing farmers money, according to Teagasc.

It says that, on average, 6.4L of water is used on Irish farms for every 1L of milk produced.

Teagasc says this level of use is mainly driven by livestock maintenance, milk cooling and cleaning procedures. While water demands for animal maintenance are determined by climate, dry matter intake and milk yield, it says.

According to Teagasc, on-farm investigations revealed that platecooler procedures utilising 2L of water per 1L of milk require 56% less energy for cooling than procedures using a ratio of less than 2 to 1.

It says plate-cooler water can be recycled for cleaning procedures and animal drinking water and can help save money here.

Efficient water use requires maintenance of the water supply network; leaks increase the pumping cost of water, Teagasc says.

For example, a 10L/minute leak costs up to €526/annum. A hot-water leak of 60 mL/min (e.g., tap with a constant drip) costs up to €240/annum in pumping and heating costs.

Teagasc says a greater understanding of water demands will enable the Irish dairy sector to reduce its burden on freshwater resources.