Running a Farm: How to Access Water for Farming

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We never know the worth of the water until the well is dry. -THOMAS FULLER

When I was 12 years old, I wrote a letter to the Director of Coca-Cola Bulawayo asking for a donation to my school fundraiser. We were fundraising to help build the Zambezi pipeline to improve water supply to drought-prone Bulawayo. Coca-Cola agreed to send us a truck full of coke!

Unfortunately, more than two decades later that pipeline still hasn't been built, and Matebeleland still faces major water shortages.

Energy, water and food are closely linked. Water is needed to extract energy and generate power; energy is needed to treat, distill and transport water; and both water and energy are needed to grow food. Agriculture consumes approximately 70% of world water supplies.

This year Zambia and Zimbabwe are facing a major drought with diminishing water supplies and frequent, long-lasting power outages. Last year's unpredictable and extreme weather patterns had a negative impact on available food supplies. This year's El Nino is forecast to be severe and likely to cause suppressed rain throughout the region. Farmers, therefore, need to explore ways to access water and use their available water resources more efficiently.

So with water on our minds, let's explore 7 alternative and sustainable ways to access water for farming:

#1. Solar Powered Water Pumps
Solar Pump-Sun Culture


Solar Water -Chimuts Solar


#2. Water Storage Tanks


Water Tank- JC Agriculture Services
#3. Rainwater Harvesting


Rainwater Harvesting-IDE
Prepare to start rainwater harvesting by putting gutters on your home/shed/barn and building reservoirs, cisterns or dams to conserve water. You can later use the harvested water for livestock, irrigation and domestic purposes after sterilizing it.

#4. Drip Irrigation



Drip Irrigation-Pedstock
Drip Irrigation- Green Desert agro services

Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of irrigation. It reduces water waste by up to half and maximizes the effectiveness of your irrigation. It also gives you have accurate control over your water application. With a micro drip system you can grow high-value fruit and vegetables in the off-season when prices are better.

#5. Treadle Pumps

Treadle Pump- IDE
You can connect your treadle pump to the storage tank and use it to irrigate your farm.

#6. Waste Water Recycling

The water from sinks, showers and even toilets could be recycled, treated and used in agriculture. Waste water is commonly used in dry countries like Israel.

#7. Desalination

For countries closer to the sea like Mozambique and South Africa, they could take sea water, remove the salt and use it in irrigation. The process is called desalination. The challenge with desalination is it's expensive and needs a lot of energy.

Let's be prepared this growing season! Look at the options that fit your budget and start planning your sustainable water solutions early.


Image Credit: Sunculture /Chimuts Solar / JC Agriculture Services/ IDE / Pedstock /  Green Desert agroservices





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