Advice for reducing on-farm water costs

When it comes to water, less is more, writes Ian Hewson, head of water a Business Stream.

When looking for a supplier, it’s important to know what you need from the water you use on your farm.

Are you looking for a company that will offer discounts or advice on efficiency? Whatever it may be, make sure your existing or potential supplier understands your needs.

The answers to those questions will directly influence where you source your water. Investing in rainwater harvesting equipment, boreholes or extraction from canals and rivers are potential options. Their suitability will depend on the purpose for which you intend to use the water. Rainwater will be fine for washing animals or vehicles, while boreholes with treatment are suitable for drinking water.

Although all of these alternative sources require upfront capital, you’ll recoup the initial investment. How long that takes is largely based on the quality of water extracted and the volumes you are using. Boreholes, for example, are likely to pay themselves off over two to five years.

Installation of sub-meters will help isolate anomalies in your system
Ian Hewson

For farmers looking to reduce consumption, simple steps can make a big difference. Recycling grey water, essentially water already used for another purpose, is a great place to start. Much of what you’re using for washing will be suitable for other farmyard tasks.

Another possibility is the installation of automated meter readers that can be used to monitor usage. Many farms will be on one meter, but the installation of several sub-meters – close to troughs, for example – will help isolate anomalies in your system. Livestock can knock valves off pipes, so they are particularly useful for spotting these issues.

Be sure to talk to potential suppliers about all these options and be happy they can meet your requirements. Remember that using less water definitely means more for your farm.

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