Ground water systems

Farm background

Producer: Len, Craig & Nick Kelsh - Glendale Pastoral Company Pty Ltd.
Location: Calca, Witera, Mount Cooper, Port Kenny
Property Area: Currently operating at 16,000 hectares arable and grazing land
Enterprise: Cropping 9,600 hectares and shearing 20,000 sheep including lambs
Annual rainfall: ranges from 350 – 400 mm

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

The biggest challenges across the Kelsh’s four properties are water supply, water quality, and the cost of getting water from the ground to the livestock. “With careful planning, a lot of hard work, and a real respect for our valuable water resource, we have been able to source the water we require for both livestock and spraying,” said Craig Kelsh. “We have been keeping the costs at a minimum through the choice of solar, wind, electric and diesel pumping systems and we have a very low tolerance to waste.

What have you done?

The Kelsh family has purchased a number of properties in the last ten years with no mains water so their sheep enterprise is totally reliant on ground water. The main objective has been to supply stock water from bores as efficiently and effectively as possible over a number of different properties, all with varying depths of water and water systems in different states of repair.

How have you done it?

“We have been able to do this successfully using an array of different pumping methods and mainly all through 32mm nominal bore (NB) poly pipe and a large number of poly tanks.” Craig said. The amount of water required for each property had a big impact on the type of watering system we used.

If power was available where the underground water was, we went with 240v Grundfos or mono pumps. “We also run a number of jack pumps on electric motors as back up pumps, where solar or wind is the main source of water extraction and extra water may be required in calm or cloudy conditions,” said Craig. Solar pumps are certainly becoming more popular as the price of power increases and the type of solar pumps available increases as well as their reliability. The minimal maintenance they require and the amount of water they supply can be easily regulated.

What would you do differently?

“There’s not a lot I would change as we haven’t stuck to one kind of system,” said Craig. “Every property varies so much from the depth of water, the amount of water required to successfully support the carrying capacity of that property, the quality of water available, how far the water has to be pumped and to what head pressure .”

“One of the main tips I would give to anyone regards watering a property is to make sure, and always have a backup supply where possible,” Craig said. “That may involve always having two tanks at the main supply point, so that if there is an issue you only have to turn on a tap and the stock have an immediate supply of water. Use every source of water that is available so you are not drawing heavily on one bore, but spreading the amount of water you require over a number of different sources.”

This lessens the chance of forking our main watering option and being left with no water. We use quite a few windmills for this purpose just with a single tank on them, knowing they are always full and ready to be used if required.

Benefits – time, money, enterprise, other?

“The benefit of having spent so much time and money on getting our watering systems up to scratch over the past few years, and doing each property as we have acquired them, is really starting to pay dividends,” said Craig. “The returns to our business from both wool and meat are getting a real boost with meat prices at record highs and wool returning good profits.” Other benefits include the amount of time saved by having systems that work well, requiring little maintenance and the livestock are supplied with a cool and regular supply of water when required.

Craig thinks it is the duty of every land holder who uses the natural resources to treat it with the respect it deserves, and try to protect it and use it wisely, so that it is there for generations to come. “I know a lot of underground water has been wasted over the years but in the last decade I have noticed it is starting to be used a lot more efficiently and I hope this will continue,” Craig said

The Kelsh family will continue to upgrade pipelines, troughs and tanks as required and probably use more solar pumping systems as they upgrade into the future.