print

Water and grazing improves returns

Producer: Richard Dutschke
Location: Lock
Property Area: 1416.4 hectares
Enterprises: Cropping- wheat and barley and sheep
Annual rainfall: 300 mm

Introduction: What is the issue, challenge with water on your property?

The original water supply system from the main Todd pipeline had a deteriorating 32mm water line running through another farmer’s property to the boundary of Richard’s property. With a system that was at the end of its life, increasing issues with poor water flow and leaks Richard decided in 2008 to replace the system. At that time Richard was concentrating on his sheep enterprise and experiencing issues of sheep overgrazing around troughs in large paddocks while other areas were under grazed. 

What have you done?

Prior to Richard installing a new water system he attended a number of workshops including a Prograze course and realised the benefits of rotational grazing, better feed utilization and reducing erosion by subdividing paddocks and installing a new water system with better flow rates across the property.

With advice from Robin Dixon Thompson it was decided that there was no option but to lay 8km of new 50mm pipe running through the farm to the property. The first 5 kilometers was buried however in the limestone country that was not possible. In past experiences ripping trenches in limestone causes stones with sharp edges eventually cut the pipes. In this situation leaks are much harder to detect. To help counteract high temperatures above ground, Richard has used white Solar Block pipes. On 30 degree days the water will still get hot.

The property was originally subdivided into 16 paddocks with 50% of these paddocks over 100ha. Richards’s first step was to start subdividing the larger paddocks for better grazing. He has now divided three more paddocks, two in haves and one into four smaller paddocks with an upgraded water system.

How have you done it?

Richards first paddock was 120 hectares which he took out of cropping and subdivided into three 40 ha sections using permanent electric fencing. He installed a central water point in a 3 way central yard.
This allowed sheep to be watered from any of the three paddocks simply by opening the right gate when rotationally grazing these paddocks.
The Bushman cup and saucer tank combines water storage with stock watering in one product has a 25mm outlet which does restrict the flow to the trough. As a results of seeing the benefits of improved water flow into troughs any trough that needs replacing will have a 50mminlets/float valves. Standard float valves are also being replaced with high flow float valves.

Richard believes that the investment in improving water infrastructure, using large diameter poly pipe, header tanks and cup and saucer tank and troughs with a 50 mm inlet riser has paid off. He placed one tank trough in the center of each paddock to water 3 or 4 paddocks instead of investing in new troughs in each paddock.

Benefits

Improved water flows with less pressure means there are less leaks and blow outs on the line. Previously the PRV was always set at around 75psi where now it is set at 25 to 50 psi depending on temperature. However, if pipes are not monitored regularly water loss can be significant if there is a leak.
Richard has been able to run bigger mixed aged mobs saving time on trough cleaning, checking sheep and is getting better feed utilization. He has run mobs up to 1,000 however 600 sheep was normal. Currently he runs two mobs of approximately 360 breeding ewes and 360 hogget’s at a stocking rate of 5DSE/WgHa. The ewes are set stock during May – June when lambing.

Issues

Calcium deposits continue to be an ongoing problem particularly in summer time when the pressure is turned up dislodging calcium deposits which can restrict the flow rate. Making repairs on pipes causes calcium chunks to be dislodged where the pipe is cut.

Future Plans

There is still five kilometres of spur line off of the main 50mm line with 25-32mm pipe. To manage water flow a number of tanks will be installed and the water points shifted to a more central location. Richard plans to introduce more tanks to feed troughs on the spur lines. All tanks with 25mm outlets will be replaced with 50mm outlets as the smaller rises from tanks have less flow than the 25mm rises off the main line.

Back to Water Security Index