It’s smart to look af­ter wa­ter sup­ply

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By GORD STE­WART

Ad­e­quate ac­cess to troughs will al­low cows to get suf­fi­cient wa­ter when they want it. If pad­docks share a trough, there can be value in putting in ad­di­tional troughs with un­re­stricted ac­cess.

‘‘Wa­ter is an es­sen­tial re­source for dairy farm­ing,’’ said Wayne Berry.

‘‘All farm­ers should be work­ing to use it ef­fi­ciently and min­imise wa­ter losses on their farm.’’

As an ex­pe­ri­enced dairy farm owner and DairyNZ con­sult­ing of­fi­cer, Mr Berry strives to prac­tise what he preaches.

He has put in sys­tems to im­prove wa­ter use on his own farm and he en­cour­ages oth­ers to do the same.

‘‘Wa­ter loss out on the farm can be a real headache,’’ said Mr Berry. ‘‘So it’s a topic we al­ways con­sider.’’ A key is hav­ing the right com­bi­na­tion of vol­ume and pres­sure – a sys­tem that suits the farm and herd size.

Fac­tors to con­sider in­clude wa­ter pres­sure/pump ca­pac­ity, size of de­liv­ery lines, size and place­ment of troughs, and flow rate through (low main­te­nance) valves.

The goal is for cows to get suf­fi­cient wa­ter when they want it.

To help achieve this, ad­e­quate ac­cess to troughs is cru­cial.

If troughs are un­der fence lines serv­ing ad­join­ing pad­docks, there is real value in adding an­other trough out in the open in each pad­dock.

Once you de­cide on a float arm or string for the valve sys­tem, keep them in good re­pair. For dura­bil­ity, fenc­ing wire is a good al­ter­na­tive to string.

Cov­er­ing trough valves will help pre­vent da­m­age by stock.

Es­tab­lish­ing a reg­u­lar rou­tine to check troughs, valves and lines when bring­ing the cows out of a pad­dock is an­other good preven­tive mea­sure. Min­er­als in wa­ter will nat­u­rally clog up valves, how­ever, so they will need a pe­ri­odic check and clean.

Sim­ple wa­ter-loss alerts for the retic­u­la­tion in­clude a pres­sure gauge or wa­ter-flow in­di­ca­tor on the lines, a pi­lot light on the pump, or even just the rhythm of an in-line dis­penser.

For pres­sure gauges, you can mark on the gauge (or put a sign by it) the typ­i­cal pres­sure so all staff are aware and can watch for change.

‘‘Ev­ery farmer has a pet wa­ter line, one that leaks reg­u­larly and has lots of join­ers on it,’’ said Mr Berry.

‘‘The sim­ple so­lu­tion for th­ese is to re­place them.’’

When it comes to fix­ing leaks, ap­pro­pri­ately-placed iso­la­tion taps (clearly marked with a bright colour) make it eas­ier to shut off wa­ter to al­low re­pair. Th­ese taps should also be marked on a farm map de­tail­ing the wa­ter sys­tem – and the map posted so all staff are fa­mil­iar with the setup.

For wa­ter loss in un­der­ground lines, putting an air com­pres­sor on the line will en­able you to hear and find a leak.

When con­sid­er­ing th­ese var­i­ous op­tions, Mr Berry has one fi­nal bit of ad­vice. ‘‘Ev­ery farm is dif­fer­ent,’’ he said.

‘‘What works on one farm, might not suit an­other. The key is to draw on meth­ods that are right for your sit­u­a­tion.’’

For more in­for­ma­tion, check out dairynz.co.nz/smart­wa­teruse.

Wa­ter is an es­sen­tial re­source for dairy farm­ing.

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