Alternative farm water supplies
Cheviot Futures is developing a number of schemes to demonstrate the alternative watering options available to farms.
Access to watercourses by livestock is an issue that often divides farmers and environmental advisors due to the links with sedimentation, diffuse pollution and elevated nutrient status within drinking waters.
Consideration of water provision for livestock and other use on farms is a key resilience approach being advocated by Cheviot Futures, against the scenario of reduced water availability due to changes in rainfall patterns and increased temperatures.
Securing a sustainable source of drinking water for livestock is a key climate change resilience action, and an adaptation that is required to some degree or another by a great number of farm holdings.
A number of farms that have taken advantage of the innovative Farm Resilience Planning approach with Cheviot Futures have identified potential issues with current watering arrangements.
On a number of sites, we have looked into, and are assisting with installing, alternative systems:
- Alternative water supply to Mowhaugh farm, Bowmont Valley, including trialling of a new pump product
- Mains connected water trough at Venchen farm, Bowmont Valley
- Solar powered water pumps
- Pasture pumps
Mowhaugh Farm, Scottish Borders
This farm identified future water supply as a key resilience issue through the Farm Resilience Plan completed in May 2011.
Working with Cheviot Futures, certain options were considered and concluded to be unsuitable for the site, including solar and wind powered pumping systems.
The solution has come in the form of the PAPA pump system. A variation on the traditional RAM pump, this system requires no energy to operate, and is easy to maintain.
The configuration at Mowhaugh was developed in close partnership with water management consultant Huw Connick, of Connicks Consultants, based in Dumfriesshire.
The arrangement involves the diversion of hill drains into a catchment and supply tank, which is then piped to the pump chamber to feed two plastic composite PAPA pumps. The excess water is then returned to the natural watercourse by means of an overflow, and the pumps push water along a piped network extending to over 1km in length.
Water is supplied to a header tank behind the farm buildings, and is drawn off to supply a number of livestock troughs along the route. The supply tank is then plumbed to the farm buildings, and overflow returned to the main watercourse system.
The system was installed in late September 2012, and the 5,000L supply tank was filled within 14 hours of the system being commissioned. The project has allowed hosepipes to be effectively used at the farm for the first time, and will secure the water supply for the future.
In addition, by securing an alternative water supply for farm use, the previous supply can be utilised for domestic use only, thereby improving that supply as well.
The next phase of works at Mowhaugh will see the trialling of the prototype PAPA Siphon pump system, currently in the final stages of product development.
We will be trialling the new system in a real-life farm situation, to act as a replacement water supply following removal of livestock access to the Bowmont Water as a result of riparian planting as part of wider catchment scale natural flood management efforts.
We are awaiting delivery estimates for this product, but hope to have it installed and working by Spring 2013.
We are planning to host a demonstration event at Mowhaugh in the coming months to look at the two systems in action, and to make comparisons with other water supply options.
Venchen Farm, Scottish Borders
On this site, the alternative water requirement came as a result of an agreement to fence and plant the riparian zone on the haughland at Yetholm. Please see the Sustainable riparian management project page for more information.
Here, the most appropriate option was to make a connection to an existing mains supply, and to connect a large capacity field trough.
This provides a useful comparison with the more innovative options being explored elsewhere.
Solar powered pumps
Cheviot Futures is currently looking into the possibility of installing a solar powered pumping arrangement on a farm within the Northumberland Uplands project area, to provide a demonstration of a renewable-powered solution for filling livestock drinking troughs.
Further details will be added to this page once project proposals are developed in due course.
Wind powered pumps
There is a wind pump in place at North Doddington farm, installed as part of the Till Wetlands Restoration Project in partnership with Natural England.
This provides another demonstration of a renewable-powered pumping solution for farms. In this case it is used to manage water levels on fields as part of wider habitat creation works, rather than direct supply of water for livestock drinking or other farm use. However, the technology could be used in such a way elsewhere.
These are small pump and water trough units which are designed to be operated by cattle pushing a lever with their noses.
These pumps have been used on a number of sites, often linked with conservation grazing agendas, with varying degrees of success.
At this point in time, Cheviot Futures does not have a site making use of this alternative water supply option. This is largely due to sites being grazed in whole or in part by sheep, which cannot operate these pumps.
We are continuing to assess whether there is merit in sourcing a site to trial this system as another alternative arrangement demonstration.