6 Water Management Tips for Farming
By Megan Wild
There is no shame in hopping on the sustainability train when it comes to your farming. Running a farm takes time, effort, and is no easy day job. It’s a lifestyle. That’s why you want to make sure your farm is up to the best standards, especially when it comes to water management.
Water is essential to life, and without it you wouldn’t have a farm or any irrigation. Here are six ways you can better manage water on your farm:
1. Rainwater Harvesting
It’s no surprise that farmers have great knowledge about how to harvest their crops, but do you as a farmer know how to harvest rain? Harvesting rainwater is a simple way to capture and store natural water. You can collect rainwater in various containers — such as barrels or tanks — that sit below a catchment area where the rain runs off and into the container.
Rainwater can easily be recycled and used for irrigation on your farm or as water for your animals. It can even be used to shower and bathe in your home. Not only does it have environmental benefits, like reducing the threat of flooding on your landscape, but the economic benefit of lower utility bills can also help you save each year.
2. Grade Control Systems
Farmers have to put in hard work to make sure their fields and land are elevated properly and will drain well so that the fields don’t flood. Grade control systems are automated pieces of equipment that connect to the machine farmers use for this process. These systems can help farmers improve productivity and accuracy by up to 50 percent, which is a win for the environment and for your pocketbook.
3. Organic Farming
To ensure that crops pass a certain standard, farmers have to spray their crops with chemicals and pesticides. This type of farming is actually dangerous for water sources due to polluting the water supply. Irrigation channels water to the crops and into the soil, and this can contaminate water when pesticides are used on a farm.
Organic farming supports the environment and makes a huge impact on water conservation. If farmers can cease using pesticides, the risk of polluted waters is reduced, which means the water supply remains clean.
4. Mother Nature’s Course
Weather can certainly be a tricky thing, and you can’t always trust what the weather report says. However, there are apps farmers can use to efficiently manage their water usage. One app can even predict, down to the minute, whether it’s going to rain.
If more farmers followed the weather closely and allowed Mother Nature to naturally bring water to their farm, there would be better water conservation in the farming industry as a whole. Following things such as precipitation, soil moisture, and temperature is an important factor of running a farm efficiently without wasting water.
5. Proper Rotation
When crops grow, they require certain amounts of nutrients and soil quality which then decrease from the soil. For the soil to retain the quality it needs, crops must be rotated. It not only keeps the soil healthy, but proper crop rotation conserves water in the process. During the rotation, farmers should be mindful to play water-absorbing plants during a rainy season and dry crops during a dry season.
Another rotation vital to water management on a farm is the rotation of grazing animals, which can benefit farming in a few ways. As animals graze, they are minimizing weeds and promoting regrowth of grass. They can also help the pasture become drought-resistant due to proper water runoff and ensure the soil doesn’t absorb too much water.
6. Buffers for Conservation
Buffers work a few ways on farms; they are small pieces of land that protect the environment from pollutants and allow farmers to control soil erosion with water. Conservation buffers are available through USDA programs that can help farmers pass regulations or requirements for their farm.
Buffers have many benefits, including the reduction of flooding and the conservation of energy. While they are great for the environment, they are also great for animals and farmers. They provide livestock with safety from harsh weather. They also increase productivity for farmers, because they help manage the land that the farm is on. Without buffers, farmers would have to put in more energy and work into their land and water management.
Increased water efficiency on your farm will change many things. It will have a better impact on the environment and can reduce your carbon footprint. It can also allow for more flexibility with the finances on your farm. And last, but certainly not least, it will help you manage the water in better ways to maximize efficiency and productivity on your farm.
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