Managing water is yet another skill New Zealand farmers now have to master. With increasing stock numbers, the never ending drive for production, clean waterways regulations and the effects of climate change, water management is more complex than even.
The collection and storage of water is perhaps one area where things have become somewhat easier for farmers. The Bailey range of lightweight, plastic moulded tanks now make the installation of large capacity storage on the farm very straightforward. With very little effort every farm building roof can be put to work as a catchment area to harvest rainwater for the farmhouse and shed supply.
Looking at the wider picture, good water management adds to land productivity and value, while making your farming operation more sustainable. Well-drained soils are essential for maximum grass growth. The longer soils take to get rid of excess water, the slower the grass will grow and the greater the chances of cows coming down with hoof problems.
Wet soils are prone to pugging too, so not only will cows and machinery damage pasture, but also heavily compacted soil will inhibit the future growth of clover and seed germination in crops. Compaction deprives the plant roots of oxygen and nutrients and slows the growing process. Another downside to pugging is that it leads to considerable overland flow of sediment and effluent into waterways.
Good water management, as in this case, good drainage, will make the most of the soil’s productivity. However you also need to be able to protect the productive soil you have being washed away by heavy rain. Tree planting on slopes, or fencing to keep stock off particularly steep sections are tried and true practices, which can be enhanced by the careful positioning of drains and laying low cost Bailey Black Snake drainage pipe to divert the flow. In some instances, not draining areas may work better for you. If you simply fence off naturally occurring springs and gullies that are swampy you may end up doing your farm a huge favour. These wetland areas actually perform a valuable function by reducing flood flows and filtering runoff.
Farm races are another area where good drainage is essential. Bailey Bazooka culverts and Black Snake drainage pipe can help prevent a race becoming waterlogged after rain, thereby reducing the chance of cows sustaining hoof injuries. And because cows will always select to walk where it’s dry, moving the herd becomes slow progress if the race is half under water. You also have to be mindful of the slope of the race to ensure that effluent does not directly flow into neighbouring waterways.
Implementing good water management practices on your farm now will help ensure the long-term future of your farm, your stock and the environment.