Rebates of up to $25,000 for on-farm water infrastructure to improve drought resilience

Drop of relief: South East LLS agricultural advisor Matt Lieschke at a property in Bannister in December.
Drop of relief: South East LLS agricultural advisor Matt Lieschke at a property in Bannister in December.

Farmers can claim back up to 25 per cent of costs from buying and installing new on-farm water infrastructure up to a maximum of $25,000 for work undertaken since July 2018.

The Federal and New South Wales coalition governments has announced it would deliver $12 million in Federal rebates.

New and upgraded on-farm infrastructure for the scheme could be applied to new purchases and installation of pipes, water storages and water pumps, de-silting dams, and associated power supplies such as generators.

The rebate is to help NSW farmers improve drought resilience and make farmers more productive after the drought breaks, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said.

How to keep afloat

South East Local Land Services Senior agricultural advisor Fiona Leech has advised producers to think about their water needs; where water is on farm and how much is available.

“Evaporation rates over the summer period can result in the loss of between 1 metre and 1.5 metre depth of water from dams, so an on-farm water budget is a useful tool to identify issues around possible water shortages for livestock over the months ahead.” Ms Leech said.

As on-farm water storages move to more critical levels there are things that can be done to help conserve the water. Photo: Karleen Minney

As on-farm water storages move to more critical levels there are things that can be done to help conserve the water. Photo: Karleen Minney

In more recent years evaporation rates have exceeded past records due to warmer temperatures and increased wind events.

“In assessing your water situation on farm it is important to also remember that rainfall events over summer are erratic and there is always a chance that heavy thunderstorm activity may provide run-off water into dams ultimately providing some relief to water shortage issues.

“Unfortunately such run-off from heavy rain can bring debris, manure etc. with it often fouling the dam water collected in the short term.

“Once the debris settles or is partially removed from the dam, water usually is then suitable for stock to drink.” Ms Leech said.

However, due to the increased nutrient load that may end up in dams following these weather events, LLS advised to monitor these dams for algal growth (particularly blue-green algae) over the warmer months.

As on-farm water storages move to more critical levels there are things that can be done to help conserve the water:

  • A water budget takes into account evaporation from storages, seepage, other animal usage and fouling to then allow assessment of amounts of water available for stock to drink. A calculation of numbers of animals and their predicted water intake would determine a time frame for which the water will last.
  • First graze paddocks with diminishing water supply.
  • Shift and consolidate water to help reduce evaporation losses and provide an opportunity for shallower dams to be cleaned out.
  • Troughing water out of dams is a means to achieve better extraction of the water and reducing the risk of stock getting stuck as the dams lower. Troughing water via the use of a header tank in order to reduce evaporation of the limited water supply.
  • Dams with more protection from vegetation will help reduce evaporation rates.