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:

  • temperature
  • humidity
  • wind
  • 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:

Protect your water supply

It is essential to protect your water supply from damage and losses:

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:

  • pumps
  • pipes
  • supply tanks
  • troughs

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.

Learn strategies from others

Always monitor, observe, review and adjust your plan.

Page last updated: 19 Jun 2020