Pressure’s on to manage water better

Pressure’s on to manage water better

28 January 2020

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Managing water is another skill modern New Zealand farmers have to master. With increasing stock numbers, the continuous drive for production, clean waterways regulations and the effects of climate change, good water management is more important than ever.

Thankfully, the collection and storage of water has become somewhat easier. The Bailey range of lightweight, plastic moulded tanks make the installation of large-capacity water 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


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 soil takes to get rid of excess water, the slower the grass growth and the greater the chance of cows developing hoof problems.

Wet soils are prone to pugging, so on top of pasture damage from cows and machinery, heavily compacted soil will inhibit the growth of clover and seed germination in crops. Compaction deprives the plant roots of oxygen and nutrients and slows growth. Another downside to pugging is it leads to considerable overland flow of sediment and effluent into waterways.

Good water management, which includes good drainage, will maximise soil productivity. However, it’s also vital to protect productive soil being washed away by heavy rain. Tree planting on slopes or fencing to keep stock off particularly steep sections are tried and true practices. These methods can be further enhanced by carefully positioning drains and laying low-cost Bailey Black Snake drainage pipe to divert the flow. It’s worth noting that, in some instances, avoiding drainage in certain areas may be beneficial. If you simply fence off naturally-occurring springs and gullies that are swampy you may end up doing your farm a huge favour. Such wetland areas 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. Because cows will always choose to walk where it’s dry, moving the herd can become slow progress if the race is under water. Just be mindful of the slope of the race to ensure that effluent does not directly flow into neighbouring waterways.

For more information on good water management practices, talk to your local TSR or visit your local Farm Source store.

Article supplied by Baileys