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Water for small farms

If you are interested in growing anything on your small farm, whether its just a vegetable garden, an orchard, or you want to keep some animals, you’re going to need to organise a source of water.  I've written an article on this topic for Farm Style, so pop over there to read the rest and leave any questions or comments here.

Cheryl swimming and Chime not swimming in one of our dams for stock water


  1. Great article, Liz. Comes at the right time for me - I am looking for property.

    Initially I intend to make do with two 22,000L tanks. Where I am looking gets around 600-700mm rain per year so my maths tells me that I should be able to do it. That said, I don't tend to have large crops or anything like that. It will be me - being very conservative with my usage, - a kitchen garden and a small food forest and a few chooks. If I start running low too quickly, lesson learnt, and I know I can order the stuff in for about $350 22,000L. Then I can make a decision as to whether I go all out and get mains connected - it isn't far from the earmarked property - or up my tanks and catchment area. I think with tanks catchment area is what catches a lot of people out. They have all the litres of storage but nothing to capture the water and deliver to them.


    Pavel Bentham - Desirable World -

    1. Sounds like a good plan Pavel, that's plenty of rainfall, but you're right, it all depends on your catchment area. Personally, I would consider building a shed (or even carport) and adding tanks if you find its not enough, at least to compare to the cost of town water, and don't forget you will pay for town water by the L, so it might be cheaper at first, but over time you will pay for it :)

  2. Thanks Liz, what an informative article. We have 55000 litres of tank water... but you're right, over a dry Summer it goes quickly. We don't have livestock but we do have a thirsty vege patch and garden :)
    We are in the process of creating a diversion system to reuse our shower/bath water for our lawns/garden. Any ideas?

    1. Check your state/local plumbing regulations, to do it legally you may have to pay a plumber. If you still want to do it yourself, do something simple and temporary. It depends if your house is above your garden and if you have space under the house. The easiest option is to simply gravity feed straight to the garden, but if the garden is uphill, you will need a holding tank (barrel) and a pump. If you can't do storage under the house, it might be more tricky, some washing machines will struggle to pump up very high. Just have a fiddle around and see what you can create :)

  3. Liz, you have raised an interesting topic and a very important one which is large in its implications. This may be an entire ebook topic for you.

    As Pavel Bentham correctly mentions the catchment area plays an important role in maintaining the supply. This applies both to dams and tanks. Is all the roofing area directed to storage and the overflow to dams.

    There are some other aspects that should be examined such as getting the water from the source to the end point. What type of pump, what size of pipe (always go at least one size up in everything just in case), pipes above ground or buried. Direct application or holding tank, pressure system or gravity feed.

    Redundancy is another issue. If the supply is critical can you survive long enough for a pump repair to take place or do you need a backup pump. Will the water supply be impacted by power failure and if so what is the alternative.

    Calculating your water needs both potable and other and then choosing the source and storage of a reliable and suitable water supply is the beginning and the most important step. Calculations of quantities required need to take into account severe weather conditions and potential future expansion of needs.

    Fruit tree needs are particularly critical as there would be nothing worse than nurturing a tree through its youth to a productive stage and then not being able to keep it alive in an extended drought.

    Our watering solutions are in and

    As to recycling water Jean always hooks up a pipe to the washing machine and disposes of all the water in the garden around trees. I don't know if all states are the same but there are restrictions on which water can be recycled. Bath and shower water is prohibited in NSW.

    1. thanks for sharing, lots of good points there, and you're right, there is so much to consider!

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