SWARM Hub

Water

Water is no longer a cheap and plentiful resource to south west farmers and growers. As prices rise year-on-year more farmers are looking for ways to reduce water use and make savings on farm water bills

Faecal Indicator Organisms

Efficient water use

More tips for Dairy farmers

More tips for Growers

Know what you are using

  • Carry out a water audit and create an action plan
  • Make a plan of the farm water system
  • Provide sufficient and logical stop valve arrangements so a failure can be isolated
  • Ensure pipe sizes are correctly designed
  • Look into all alternative sources of supply and if necessary check on quality and quantity
  • Regularly check water meter readings

SOURCES:

FWAG management advice

HCCMPW

Know what you are losing

  • Check pipes, taps, hoses, troughs etc visually for signs of leakage
  • Regularly check water usage by comparing bills. Increased usage may indicate a leak in the system
  • An electronic leak monitor can be used to check for hidden leaks
  • Regularly carry our routine maintenance on the system, clean and overhaul all valves and renew washers
  • Adjust ball valves to lower the float so that there is less risk of spillage and overflowing
  • Isolate and drain troughs and pipes that are not in use over the winter to prevent frost damage that would cause a leak

SOURCES:

FWAG management advice

HCCMPW

Separate clean and dirty water

Dirty water can be a common source of pollution and should be disposed of safely on land. Keeping dirty and clean water separate on farm reduces the volume of dirty water and provides an alternative source of clean water to possibly replace more expensive sources.

  • Roof livestock holding areas to reduce the volume of dirty water produced
  • Keep guttering and spouting maintained.
  • Try to reduce the uncovered area that stock use

SOURCES:

FWAG management advice

HCCMPW

Consider alternative water supplies where possible

  • Abstract water at times of high water levels and store for times of shortage
  • Recycling rainwater (check hygiene regulations for the end use)
  • Consider the use of springs, boreholes and watercourses (but also consider the legal requirements)
  • Take advice before changing water supply as there may be implications

SOURCES:

FWAG management advice

HCCMPW

Contamination of water supplies and pollution risk

  • Keep grazing stock away from areas adjacent to wells or springs and erect fences where necessary
  • Prevent seepage from slurry compounds, silage clamps, or cattle yards into underground drainage systems or groundwater
  • Repair and maintain spring collection chambers, brick or concrete reservoirs and wells to prevent dirty water entering through cracked brickwork or broken covers contaminating the system
  • Be aware of all water sources on the farm. Mark them on a map to show potential contamination points
  • oid spreading dirty water or manure close to water sources
  • Use a covered container area with a sealed base for mixing pesticides and filling sprayers
  • Dispose of any unwanted chemicals in the approved manner

SOURCES:

FWAG management advice

HCCMPW

More tips for Dairy farmers

  • Consider alternative sources for livestock drinking water. Livestock drinking accounts for 50-75% of a dairy farmís water use (Dairy Co). Stock need to be given adequate access to clean water so there is no opportunities to reduce water use; however it is possible to look at alternative sources
  • Reuse plate cooler water Ė this accounts for 25% of water use, and can effectively be reused to produce no impact on performance
  • Collect yard and parlour wash down water for reuse
  • If the typical dairy farm reused all the dairy and bulk washings, which is 334m≥.year, at the cost of £1.11/m≥m this saves £371/year. But the re-use also saves on disposal costs, and at a disposal cost of £1/m≥, double savings could be made, which would total £668/year (Dairy Co figures, 2009)
  • Scrape parlours and yards prior to washing them down, to minimise the volume of water used
  • If considering purchasing a new bulk tank, consider the wash volumes
  • Reuse water plant water for washing down the collecting yard
  • For more information on the Effective Use of Water on Dairy Farms please continue to read the Dairy Co booklet

More tips for Growers

Horticultural crops demand and require a significant amount of water due to their perishable nature. Stress not only affects the current seasonís crop but have the potential to affect future crops as well.

  • Consider the use of trickle irrigation systems
  • Increase the use of on site reservoirs
  • Consider the use of rainwater harvesting systems
  • Monitor the irrigation system and determine what and where the water is wetting the soil
  • Weeds compete for water and nutrients with the plants, so ensure that you have adequate weed control measures in place.
  • Consider the use of fertigation Ė combining irrigation and fertiliser applications offering opportunities to precisely manipulate nutrient supply during growth whilst increasing the efficiency of water and nutrient application
  • Manage water usage in terms of needs of the crop and local weather conditions
EA and Cranfield University