Water use in the agricultural sector is a big issue for farmers.

This is why we have been working with the National Farmers’ Union Scotland for the past six years to help increase water efficiency on Scotland’s farms. We are now using the same methods to work with farmers in England.

Any increase in water efficiency will help farmers improve their economic and environmental sustainability. This is particularly important in relation to any future challenges faced by water scarcity and water security, especially when it comes to the warmer, drier summers we have been experiencing in recent years.

farming fields

Ways of achieving water efficiency on the farm

If you would like to take the first steps towards water efficiency on your farm, the most effective solution is the installation of Automatic Meter Reading equipment, which will enable you to assess water use as well as the success of any water efficiency measures you take. Using the data, you can monitor water usage more closely. By understanding what your normal usage is, you will be able to spot a leak more quickly, giving you the chance to repair it before a lot of water has been wasted or structural damage has been done. You will also be able to monitor the effectiveness of any water efficiency measures you are undertaking in terms of water usage.

Castle Water will install AMR technology free of charge, including access to metering data for three years. The technology will provide enough data for you to monitor and reduce water consumption, aiding sustainability at the same time as saving money.

Harvesting rainwater and diverting grey water for use on the farm
'Grey water’ is the term for waste water that does not contain any faecal matter, i.e. water harvested from sinks, baths, showers, washing machines and dishwashers. Grey water can represent up to 80% of household water waste. In drier areas, such as California, the diversion of grey water for use on agricultural land is promoted and encouraged. The California Ag Water Stewardship Initiative claims that: “The organic matter content in gray water is actually beneficial for soil structure and most of the microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoans) in gray water are gradually overcome by the vibrant soil microorganism population.” At the very least, your farm could divert collected rainwater to toilets and outside taps.

farmer field

One water efficiency measure that’s becoming more popular is for farmers to build a reservoir on their land, which means they have their own water supply in the summer when it is more likely that abstraction restrictions will be imposed. A reservoir may enable your farm to diversify into more water-hungry crops. It could even add value onto the price of your land.

AI technology
Artificial intelligence could revolutionise the agricultural farming industry. Robotic systems can take over most, if not all, of the manual tasks, such as sowing, weeding and harvesting, and have the ability to work at any time of the day or night. The technology can help with water efficiency through selective watering of crops, leaving unused areas of soil dry. This not only saves on the amount of water used, but also makes it more difficult for weeds to establish themselves, improving the overall efficiency of the crop.