Wonderful on Tap

Water-saving tips for farmers

How you can be more water-wise on the farm, whether you're an arable or livestock business

"Farmers can and do act early to improve their prospects of coping with prolonged dry periods by using water-saving devices like effective use of irrigation equipment, science-based soil and water management, and irrigation best practice"
Paul Hammett, NFU Water Resources Specialist

Arable farmers

Reuse water

Harvested rainwater from roofs of farm buildings can be used for a
variety of activities, like washing down hard standing areas.

Appliances

Replacing washers, fixing overflows and attending to dripping taps
and hosepipes promptly will help reduce wastage.

Inspect any pipes on the farm regularly to identify possible leaks.
Unusually damp ground, unexpectedly lush ground or reduced community/rush vegetation are all giveaway signs of a possible leak.

Water alternatives

Removing dirt and waste from solid areas in the farm can be done with brushes and scrapers –
just use a small amount of water
to hose down afterwards.

Apply efficiently

Irrigating at the right time of day to meet crop needs is more efficient
and reduces loss through evaporation.

Top tips

1. Know the water holding capacity of the soil in each field and the water requirements and response of each crop grown

2. Use effective soil moisture monitoring systems and schedule irrigation accurately

3. Choose the right application equipment for each situation and know how to get the best out of it in terms of uniform and timely delivery

4. Manage water application for maximum economic benefit with minimum impact on the environment

5. Audit performance afterwards to seek ways to improve the efficient use and application of water

Catchment management

We're really keen to work with farmers and land managers to reduce risks to drinking water through effective catchment management.

Livestock farmers

Reuse water

Harvested rainwater from roofs of farm buildings can be used for a variety of activities, like washing down hard standing areas.

On dairy farms, water used in the clean plate cooling system can be diverted to a tank and re-used for washing down the parlour.

Appliances

Water troughs can overflow if ball-valves are incorrectly set or damaged, wasting hundreds of litres of water.

Replacing washers, fixing overflows and attending to dripping taps and hosepipes promptly will help reduce wastage.

Inspect any pipes on the farm regularly to identify possible leaks. Unusually damp or unexpectedly lush ground and reduced community/rush vegetation are all giveaway signs of a possible leak.

Water alternatives

Removing dirt and waste from solid areas can be done with brushes and scrapers – just use a small amount of water to hose down afterwards.

Top tips

Don’t try to save water by limiting the amount of water your animals drink, but do follow these water conservation practices.

1. Find and fix your leaks. A leaking pipe joint or dripping faucet contributes to the loss of 45 litres per unit per day.

2. Pay close attention when filling tubs or tanks. A water tub that is accidentally left to run over while filling with a hose is responsible for the loss of 23 litres per minute. Another idea is to install a float with a shut-off.

3. On dairy farms, capture the pre-cooler water that chills down milk. Allowing it to run down the drain can waste up to 90 to 140 litres of water every minute

4. Divert wash water from a clean-in-place (CIP) system to a storage tank. Then reuse the water through a pump to wash down the parlour.

5. Tune up your wash system to assure the air injection system is working properly and check the settings to see that you are only using the amount of water needed for each wash cycle.

6. Cow cooling doesn’t need water spraying continuously, cycle the unit off and on in coordination with a fan system.

7. Manually clean floors and alleys before washing down.

8. Rinse small equipment in a sink or bucket, rather than with running water.