Water for small farms

If you are interested in growing anything on your small farm, whether its just a vegetable garden, an orchard, or you want to keep some animals, you’re going to need to organise a source of water. Most small farms are located in rural properties that are not connected to town water, so your main source of drinking and household water will be either  water tanks or a bore. When you first move in, the water tanks may seem huge, but you will soon find out how quickly that water can be used if you are  sharing it with a garden and livestock. Adult cattle can drink up to 100 L/day, and I can use that much again on the vegetable garden if its been dry.

Unless you have a permanent flowing creek, your options for farm water will be either a dam or a bore. If there is already a dam on the property, don’t assume that the water quality is suitable or that it will hold water permanently. It is a good idea to take a water sample, and find out if your local council can test it for salt content. One clue that is immediately obvious is if the dam is clear, it is likely to be saline, whereas a silty dirty looking dam will have lower salt content. We have been caught out by thinking that the clear dam was better quality and it wasn’t until we tested the salt content we found out that it was barely suitable for cattle to drink and no good for the garden. The other thing to check is the bywash (the part of the bank where the water will overflow when the dam fills) and the bank in general for any signs of damage, erosion or instability. If the dam has been built correctly, it should have been dug out and the bank covered with the original top soil, it should have grass growing on the bank rather than being bare clay. However, there should be no trees growing on the bank, as the roots can cause holes to form in the bank. Rebuilding a dam can be more expensive than building a new dam, as it takes longer to fix poor work than to start again and do the job properly the first time.  Farm dam

 This is also an important point if you decide to have a dam built on your property. Make sure that you use an experienced contractor who will take the time  to dig out the dam area, remove all stumps, form the bank and then replace the top soil on the bank to allow grass to grow.  A quick, cheap dam may work  for a few years, but will be more prone to expensive problems in the future. 

Not every site has soil that is suitable for building dams, and you may end up with a hole that doesn’t hold water. Again, an experienced contractor can  help you to assess the ideal site for a dam and whether you have the right soil. You can also check out your neighbouring properties to find out whether  dams tend to hold water in your area, and look at the clay they have used in the successful dams as you may be able to find similar clay on your property.  If your soil is not appropriate, it is possible to buy in clay to build your dam.

Your other option for water is a bore. Bores can be expensive as you pay based on the depth that is drilled, and you will have to pay even if water is not  found, but if you do strike water, you may find a source that is even more reliable than a dam. Water divining is an ancient practice, and some people  swear by diviners, while others dismiss it as mumbo-jumbo. I can’t say whether they work or not, but if you can find someone who is well recommended in  your area, it at least gives you a place to start looking for water, unless you have some obvious damp areas. You can also ask around your neighbours and  find out if any successful bores (or unsuccessful) have been sunk and the quality of the water that resulted, which will give you an idea of whether its worth  trying and how deep you may have to drill. Unfortunately, even if you find water, it may also be saline, so if pays to test it before using it on animals or your  garden.

Buying a property that already has a proven dam or bore with good water may cost more, but at least you know you will have water ready when you want to  start growing your garden or keeping stock. If you can’t find or afford a property with water, then be prepared to organise a water source before you get too  far with growing much on your property. 
Water trough
Liz lives on eight acres in south east Queensland, Australia, with her husband Peter and two dogs. They have a passion for small-scale organic farming  and producing and eating real food. They keep chickens, beef steers, two jersey cows and a big vegetable garden. Liz writes a blog about their farm to both inspire and help others who are interested in self-sufficiency, sustainability and permaculture. http://eight-acres.blogspot.com.au/

 


News Category

New Forum Topics

Topic Replies Last post Forum
6104 Sheep per acre
bysena on Sun, 05/31/2020 - 04:05
2
by sena
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 20:53
Sheep
5673 Goat Worming
byBrettgarland on Sat, 05/11/2019 - 17:06
10
by hairy goat
Sun, 05/31/2020 - 09:14
Farming Help
6103 Machine to automatically collect and compost manure
byHStuart18 on Wed, 05/27/2020 - 10:52
0
by HStuart18
Wed, 05/27/2020 - 10:52
General Forum
5363 Olive trees
bylazzaman on Sat, 12/22/2018 - 19:39
13
by meriam
Tue, 05/26/2020 - 20:39
General Forum
6073 Typical seasonal variability coastal NSW
byme001 on Wed, 05/13/2020 - 13:40
2
by me001
Thu, 05/21/2020 - 09:00
Farming Help
3275 Agistment Rates
bymrmrsmrb on Thu, 11/09/2017 - 17:14
6
by rchalmerssayes
Sun, 05/17/2020 - 15:17
General Forum
1498 Information: solar powered drip irrigation system
byfrisbie on Mon, 12/03/2012 - 21:55
10
by shahabuddin
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 04:08
General Forum
6071 Tractors
byDJF on Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:06
1
by admin
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 09:14
932 Tractors
bygaz on Fri, 07/13/2012 - 13:53
10
by DJF
Sun, 05/10/2020 - 18:51
General Forum
2918 Starting a farm on the sunshine coast QLD
bygreenpasturesnoosa on Fri, 05/20/2016 - 15:11
5
by admin
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 11:20
New Members
6032 Seeding practices
byWil on Mon, 05/04/2020 - 20:49
1
by craka
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 23:16
Farming Help
6043 Making Tractor attachments
byCal and Nanny on Wed, 05/06/2020 - 15:15
1
by craka
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 22:58
Farm equipment
6028 Guidelines for sheep condition and nutritional signs
byshaz on Sun, 05/03/2020 - 11:57
1
by admin
Tue, 05/05/2020 - 17:17
6031 Quadbike ROPS
byPhilO on Mon, 05/04/2020 - 18:18
3
by admin
Tue, 05/05/2020 - 17:09
6029 Goat Farming Course
byphil123 on Sun, 05/03/2020 - 12:47
2
by phil123
Sun, 05/03/2020 - 23:05
5991 Pasture grass identification
bySammymorgan24 on Sun, 03/29/2020 - 19:31
3
by shaz
Sun, 05/03/2020 - 12:19
Pastures
6019 New farm owner licenses
byaitkenr on Tue, 04/21/2020 - 21:36
1
by ned
Sat, 05/02/2020 - 13:34
Farm planning
5966 Smsf farm buying
byjohnj on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 12:40
2
by ned
Sat, 05/02/2020 - 13:27
General Forum
6024 Primary Producer Qualification (NSW)
bySteveB on Sat, 04/25/2020 - 20:16
1
by admin
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 09:39
Farming Help
6021 Starting up rotational grazing with sheep
bylelliott on Thu, 04/23/2020 - 13:54
1
by admin
Sun, 04/26/2020 - 17:11
New Members

Our Sponsors

Our Partners