Smart ways with water

By Cherie Taylor

Farmers looking beyond the festive season are invited to take part in exchanging ideas on smart water use on the farm.

DairyNZ is planning a series of Smart Water Use workshops throughout the country in the New Year in conjunction with district councils.

Farm consultant Wayne Berry says regional and district council staff will be at the workshops to review local water issues and answer farmers' questions.

"DairyNZ staff will lead discussions on simple and inexpensive ways to use water efficiently and reduce water loss on far," he says.

"Come along and tell us what works for you, or just listen in."

Farm water systems needed continual maintenance to ensure water was available to dairy stock on time and in adequate supply, Berry says.

"With the hot summer months approaching, now's the time to ensure your system is in good working order. It's all a part of smart water use on the farm."

Maintenance checks should cover the whole system from source to troughs.

"Each farm will have its own peculiarities, depending on water source and quality, farm size, and age of components," Berry says.

It was recommended that water pumps should be serviced in the spring with piston pumps requiring a check of the leather washers and gland packing.

Centrifugal pump checks should include the flow rate, noisy bearings, and any leaks.

"Modern pressure tanks shouldn't require as much maintenance as older steel tanks - a check of the bladder pressure should do it.

"Steel tanks need to be bled of excess water annually or as required, since waterlogged pumps turn off and on continually.

"Inspect non-return valves and screens at the bottom of bores and wells.

"Check pressure gauges for accuracy, and clean or unblock the hole in the stem if necessary," Berry says.

Delivery lines, including taps, joins and pipes, could be checked visually.

"Check flow rates at key points around your system to be sure they meet delivery requirements.

"Poor water quality can block lines over time. This may require clearing manually with an air compressor or simply a barley sugar into the pipeline.

"Replace poor quality lines and joins, ideally burying new lines 600mm below the surface to protect them from damage," he says.

"For trough maintenance, empty and scrub clean the inside surfaces.

"You can service valves and floats at this time and check any washers, in-line screens, lever arms, and strings for damage or excessive wear and tear.

"You can check flow rates on refilling."

Cracks in the trough wall might cause water loss and possibly bog around the trough.

These should be plastered with cement or the trough replaced.

Entry fittings, or goose-necks, required protection from damage, Berry says.

"Ensure that the filling around troughs is adequate.

"This will assist with equipment protection and stock access.

"Removing thorny hedging and insulating fences from troughs will keep stock happy."

Workshops provide ways to reduce water consumption, cut power use, save money, make effluent management easier and reduce work time, Berry says.

* Smart Water Use on Dairy Farms Ideas Exchange Workshops will be held in: Reporoa, Thursday, February 9; Te Puke, Friday, February 10; Katikati, Monday, February 13; Edgecumbe, Wednesday, February 15; and Galatea, Thursday, February 16.

To reserve a spot or to find out about where and when a Water Smart session will be held in your area email

- Hamilton News

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