Careful water planning is essential before investing in your farm and costly constructions. If you have a property in rural Australia used for farming, then you will likely discover that you have no access to a mains water supply. Good planning means performing a detailed water audit to know where your water will be used, calculate how much water is needed through the year and what sources of water are available to your property.
Three planning steps you should perform when auditing your farm water requirements include:
- Working out the different uses of water required on your farm.
- Calculating water needed for each specific use throughout each month.
- Identifying water sources available to your property to ensure your required water is available year-long.
Different Uses of Water on Your Farm
While your farm will have unique water requirements depending upon your produce and/or stock, there are four general areas of water use to consider on your farm property:
- Household water use, affected by number of people living on the property, used in toilet flushing, baths and showers, clothes and dishwashing, etc.
- Gardens, lawns and shrubbery, found on your property that you wish to sustain including any vegetable gardens that might be present.
- Crop irrigation, to ensure you harvest a healthy and quality crop.
- Stock water use, consumed by your stock and stock management.
Calculating Your Required Water
When calculating water required on the farm, identify how much water is required during each month of the year. In certain months, depending upon whether you have stock or the type of crops being grown, water requirements might be more or less.
For example, drinking water requirements for grazing animals will vary according to weather, water quality, nature and quality of feed, age of animal, condition of animal and even social behaviour. Summer water requirement will be more than winter.
As another example, crops such as lettuce and cabbage need water right up to harvest whereas dry crops like maize or sunflowers require water earlier on as they grow, but have minimal water requirements during their ripening up until harvest stage.
For more information, read our article Calculating Your Farm Water Usage Requirements.
Water Sources Available on Your Property
The four main sources of water that rural properties often tap into include:
- Rainwater harvested from roofs into water storage tanks
- Ground water pumped into a bore water tank
- Private dams that capture water runoff
- Pumping water from creek or river ways
To maximise the use of your water, you can also investigate the use of recycled waste water.
Each water source will be of a different water quality. The highest quality water is often rainwater harvested from rooftops of sheds. Surface water sources such as rivers, creeks and private dams, or tapping into underground water reservoirs through bores can also provide good quality water. Water testing will need to be performed to ensure such is fit for stock consumption or good for irrigation, both initially and periodically.