Water Harvesting In My Hobby Farm

Drought conditions during the past few years have brought home the importance of conservation and the careful application of water on the farm.

The restricted availability of town water during dry periods means one has to come up with other solutions regarding water.

Metal, concrete and now the more popular plastic rainwater tanks are now a standard feature on most farms. Farms that have access to a permanent source of water such as a large dam, spring or river frontages are in a good position to survive extended droughts. Farmers with access to good quality bore water are generally able to utilize some of the available underground water.

In my case I have developed a small scale water harvesting system using graded earth mounds that have been covered with a layer of plastic. The mounds meet at the lowest point from which drainage pipes direct runoff of rainwater to a nearby below-ground storage tank. Any excess of rainwater is then channeled to a trenched area between plantings.

Before the plastic was laid upon the mounds I waited for a good rain in order to check how the collected rainwater would flow, and once satisfied the system worked the next task was to lay plastic and secure this cover using anything that would stop strong winds from blowing the plastic away.

Simple plumbing using standard storm water pipes have the system connected and now several hundred square metres of the farm acts as a catchment feeding a small tank. As well, should there be a good downpour excess water is automatically directed to a part of the farm which needs extra moisture.

There is also some runoff from the top of the mounded area to the outside of the catchment area. This water will collect at the bottom of the mound and will be used by a row of plantings used to landscape what presently an unsightly area.

There will be some maintenance of the plastic as eventually it will start to degrade in sunlight and also some leaves may block up pipes, but I am happy to see how the system develops and hopefully this system will last a relatively long time.

The most satisfying aspect of this system is that it is completely passive using only the force of gravity to move water.