New ideas battle dairy slump losses

By David Porter -
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Neil Peterken, founder of Kliptank.
Neil Peterken, founder of Kliptank.

Bay of Plenty manufacturer Kliptank has been developing innovative new products in response to the pressure on sales caused by the dairy slump, says general manager Simone Gibson.

The Tauranga company was the first in New Zealand to create above-ground effluent storage tanks as an alternative to traditionally used ground ponds.

The tanks use a patented clip-together system developed by founder Neil Peterken, which allows components to be flat-packed on to pallets, transported by truck and assembled on site.

"Neil developed it in 2007 as a water tank storage system aimed at the Australian market," said Ms Gibson.

"Then we found there was a huge demand from dairy farmers here to be compliant for effluent. It quickly became the biggest part of the business."

However, the dairy slump has impacted the effluent tank side of the business.

"We've definitely slowed down. Dairy farmers are reluctant to put their hands in their pockets at the moment. But they are pretty resilient and have made a lot of changes over the past couple of years to the way they manage their farms while the payout is low.

That is going to pay off when it comes back up, and they will find their bottom line is even better."

In response, the company - which had already made sales in Tahiti, Thailand, Hawaii and Australia - is now targeting export markets more aggressively, beginning with Chile and Australia. It has also begun looking at industrial waste markets outside the farm sector.

And Mr Peterken has been developing new products.

The company is now selling its KlipJet Oxy Aerator Stirring System, which aerates the tanks at much higher levels than traditional stirring systems, meaning waste is treated prior to irrigating to pasture or disposal.

Papamoa dairy farmer Brendan Bragg said the KlipJet he bought for his 1.2 million litre Kliptank had been a "game-changer" and allowed him to add the treated effluent to his pastures one week before the cows went on, rather than three weeks before.

"I pump from the bottom of the tank, and there are just no solids when I spread it with the irrigator. The other thing is there's no smell to it.

I live near the built-up area of Papamoa, so that's a good thing for me."

Mr Peterken also has developed and begun to market a biogas system which collects the methane gas given off from organic waste.

A herd of 1600 cows was potentially able to produce 300KW of methane gas power, which could be used to run farm engines.

The concept was widely used on European and American farms.

"But our system, using the Kliptank as a digester, reduces the capital cost of methane production significantly to about a third of comparable overseas systems."

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