Planning & contingencies key to stock water systems

Prue and Sean McGee, Ben Lomond and Jaimi-lee Edwards, UNE
05th Mar 2024

Landholders at Ben Lomond tackled on-farm waterway health and improving stock water systems, at a GLENRAC workshop on February 13th.
At the GLENRAC workshop in the Cromarty woolshed, The Pump Shed’s Matt Ridley started the discussions with tips on how to plan for installing or upgrading a stock water system.
“As a rule of thumb, it’s not too much from my experience to gear to the numbers you will be running, rather than ‘oh, this will be enough’,” Mr Ridley said.
“In the last drought, in winter stock were using the same amount of water as summer consumption, because of the supplementary feed, including salt.”
As well as planning to deliver litres per animal per day, Mr Ridley said graziers should also plan for problems.
“In any system, it’s best to have a contingency, especially as there may be a delay in parts delivery for repairs,” he said. “You can’t afford to have no water at all.”
This was backed up by Dave Worsley, a grazier from Nullamanna, one of the landholders taking part in a project with GLENRAC and the Armidale Node of the SQNNSW Innovation Hub, to investigate best practice stock water systems for the local area.
“The biggest problem with my (original) system was no back up, so that when the pump went bang, everything went bang,” Mr Worsley said.
His system now has redundancies, a monitoring system and plans for further infrastructure improvements.
Manager of Winston Park and workshop host Anthony Rosser said as part of the stock water project, he was assessing two possible configurations for an upgraded water system on the Ben Lomond property.
“There’s a huge productivity gain to be had there, by installing troughs and keeping cattle out of the dams, and improved water quality and security,” he said.
“The other benefit is the protection of our local creeks and streams, allowing our creekbanks to revegetate and stabilise, because there’s some quite steep areas where stock do access the water and obviously, it’s inevitable there’s some sort of erosion occurring and therefore sediment going into the stream.”
Other speakers on the day included University of New England aquatic ecology expert Dr Sarah Mika, SQNNSW Drought Hub Armidale Node Manager Lu Hogan, NSW Local Land Services Drought Adoption Officer Matt Champness, and UNE’s Jaimi-lee Edwards, who provided an update on a Future Drought Fund project.
GLENRAC CEO Kylie Falconer said all of the speakers on the day faced extensive questioning.
“I think the questions were the proof in the pudding for me. People came with specific questions in mind and asked them all.”
Ms Falconer said more than 30 farmers were in the room for the workshop, travelling from Inverell to Walcha, and Guyra to Glen Innes.
The Drought Resilient Pasture Landscapes Project and the Armidale Node of the SQNNSW Innovation Hub receive funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

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