How the agriculture industry can save water

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In the Western Cape, 63% of our scarce water resources are going to the agriculture industry. We are in desperate times here in the Western Cape and everyone needs to be doing their part. Farmers can’t help needing X amount of water to keep their produce alive and consumable, but there are ways in which they can easily reduce their water use and save water.

Water recycling

The process of water recycling and reuse is made extremely easy with PROXA Water Mobile Water Services. Of which, water recycling and reuse is not the only service they provide that optimises the water cycle.

Collecting excess water from agricultural runoff, rainwater and other areas can be reused on the farm. This makes sure that farmers stretch water as far as possible before dipping into water reserves for more. The amount of water saved this way alone will make such a difference in the water shortage.

Catchment areas

Having your own dam, water catchment area, or rainwater tanks on the farm will give you a private supply of water that doesn’t affect the rest of the province’s water levels. Your water bill will also be significantly reduced by relying on the water you manage to store over the few rainy days we do have. Even if it’s not a lot to begin with, eventually it will add up.

Or you can make the process quicker by investing and drilling for borehole water that can be used on the farm as well. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area that accommodates borehole water.

Irrigation practices

By adjusting your irrigation practices, you can save up to 80% more water. Make use of a drip irrigation system to carry water directly to the roots of your crops. The water from the sprayers you’re currently using is evaporating before it manages to get where it needs to be. With drip irrigation, this isn’t a problem and, besides saving water, you’ll also experience a greater crop yield.  

It’s in your farm’s best interest to use drip irrigation along with an irrigation schedule that waters your crop during the cooler times of day where there is an even smaller chance of evaporation. Along with scheduling comes weather watching. Being aware of what the weather patterns are for the day can save water by not overwatering the fields through irrigation and rain efforts.

It’s really in the small changes where large quantities of water can be saved.

Cover crops

Something so simple that can save water, increase the quality and fertility of your soil, discourage weeds as well as prevent corrosion, are cover crops. These plants regulate the soil, protect your primary crops and create a kind of natural filtering system in the ground to direct water flow to the roots of your crops.

Compost

Hand in hand with cover crops is the making, maintaining and use of your own compost from organic substances to encourage water-retention and keep the soil’s moisture levels up. Compost and cover crops will both take care of your soil and keep the water from evaporating.

Rotational grazing

Another way to manage your soil and, ultimately, save water is by implementing rotational grazing for your livestock between fields. There will be less water wasted from run off as the water absorption qualities increase and water will be saved by prolonging one forage area for grazing.

You should have a grazing management system in place regardless of a water shortage or not because there are so many benefits. But, in the current situation we find ourselves in, do it for the water.

Dry farming

The mentality of dry farming is something that all members of the agricultural industry should implement, even if their crops aren’t dry farming friendly. “Dryland farming involves the constant assessing of the amount of moisture present or lacking for any given crop cycle and planning accordingly.” Your yields may be less and without irrigation systems you’d have to be incredibly invested in soil management and making the most of natural or recycled rainwater. Which isn’t a bad thing in any case.

Think sustainability

You may be in an “instantaneous” industry where everything you produce is to satisfy the demand of the present. But you need to start thinking about sustainability and how the methods, equipment and mentality you have are affecting natural resources today and what will be left for future farmers. Everything we do today has consequences on tomorrow and, once you’re aware of that fact, you can make the necessary changes.

Water is a precious resource that we need every single day. We cannot afford to waste it when there are ways to save it.