Efficient use of farm water
Managing farm water supplies is a key challenge. Planning helps farmers manage their water resources.
These are key points to consider when planning to get the most out of your water.
Cut down on all water losses
Through evaporation, any exposed body of water will lose a considerable quantity of water each year. Evaporation is often the biggest consumer of water from a dam. It must be allowed for when choosing dam size.
Evaporation depends on:
- surface area of water
- orientation of the dam
Hot, dry, windy days will cause greater water loss than cold still days. Similarly, evaporation is usually much lower in the winter than in the summer.
The most effective method of evaporation control is to minimise the surface area of the volume of water stored.
- Reduce evaporation from farm dams including the use of windbreaks.
- Minimize seepage.
- Control any reticulation leakage.
- Restrict any decline in quality of final water storage 'dregs'.
Improve the efficiency water use
- rationalise storage sites
- reduce use where possible
- use rainwater and header tanks
- reassess where water is needed and whether the current system is appropriate
- provide efficient and stable drinking points
- upgrade reticulation systems
- measure and calculate how much water you need and can store
Use technology to open up options
- solar powered pumps in isolated areas
- air well pumps
- electronic and remote monitoring systems
Reuse and recycle water
Reclaimed water is potentially a valuable resource for the agricultural sector. Properly used, reclaimed water protects:
- the environment
- public and animal health
- food safety
Reclaimed water may also have advantages over the use of potentially limited or costly traditional primary water sources, in terms of reliability of supply and price.
Further resources on reclaimed water:
- Dairy shed water — how much do you use?
- reclaimed water use in livestock production
- reclaimed water — use in cattle production
Protect your water supply
It is essential to protect your water supply from damage and losses:
- prevent stock access to waterways
- minimise algal growth in farm dams
- prevent and treat organic pollution
- drought reserve dams
Allocate water to stock in safe and stable areas
Implementing reticulated water within a grazing system can be effective in improving water quality and animal performance.
Examples of water reticulation systems are:
- supply tanks
Farmers should take into account peak daily requirements (particularly for stock drinking and irrigation), increased stock numbers into the future and plan the size of the system accordingly.
- stock perform better when drinking from troughs
- use stock containment areas
- water supply for stock containment areas
Learn strategies from others
- read other farmers stories
- water supply options for rural lifestyle properties
Always monitor, observe, review and adjust your plan.