Conserving Resources: How Farmers can Save on Water

Water is a crucial element in both raising livestock and growing crops. In fact, farms are some of the largest water consumers. A principal need on most farms is the animals’ water supply and for irrigation to water a wide range of crops. Ensuring a reliable and sufficient flow of water into these areas is key to achieving food security and meeting sanitary requirements.

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Image source: noble.org

However, because of global warming, droughts are becoming more frequent and unusually strong weather changes are increasingly turning into a norm. The reservoirs are now getting less stable, and freshwater shortages are becoming more severe—even in tropical regions. All these contribute to poor yields, low-quality agricultural output, and even famine for hogs, cattle, and poultry. If enough time passes, farms will soon wither and die out. With these, it is high time that farmers start employing practices that would not only save his plants and animals but the freshwater water supply itself as well.

One way the farmer can conserve water is through the removal of phreatophytes. Examples of phreatophytes are Russian olive, tamarisk, willows, and cottonwood. These plants consume a significant amount of the soil’s moisture. By removing them, more water will be available for the more important crops. The U.S. Geological Survey also suggests the use of low-energy spray irrigation. It involves gently spraying water very close to the ground. With this method, irrigation efficiency would jump from 60 percent to 90 percent as compared to that with traditional spray irrigation.

When it comes to raising animals, however, limiting the amount of water the animals drink is not the way to go. Conservation practices are needed to help in maintaining ample supply. These include paying attention when filling tubs or tanks, diverting wash water from a clean-in-place (CIP) system to a storage tank, fixing leaks, and rinsing small equipment in a sink or bucket, rather than with running water.

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Image source: helloelgin.co.za

Geoffrey Morell focuses on growing organic species and in making farms, particularly those that raise livestock, more sustainable. For more insights into responsible farming, click here.

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