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Australian Wool Innovation Limited
Emily King
Manager, Woolgrower Education & Capacity Building
ARTICLES >> Property Articles

Water Management Is Important Too!

Posted by Bestprac on Jan 15 2009

 By Chelsea Muster, Rural Directions Pty Ltd

A recent workshop held at North Well Station, in the North East, has highlighted the importance of water budgeting and analysis of water quality to pastoralists.

The workshop, supported by the ‘Improving Rangelands Sustainability' project, included producers sending off samples of their water for analysis and interpreting these results and the implications to wool production and lamb survival. Water quality can have a major impact on all aspects of pastoral management including grazing management, livestock health and livestock production.

It is important that producers understand the thresholds of certain minerals and elements that different classes of livestock are able to tolerate. For example, salinity tolerance levels differ depending upon the class of stock concerned. Lambs, weaners and breeder ewes can tolerate up to 6,050ppm, whereas adult sheep can tolerate up to 12,100ppm. Therefore, knowing the quality of water, and what animals are best suited to certain waters can impact on growth rates and wool growth. Wool growth can decrease by up to 4 grams/day as water increases from 10,000 ppm to 20,000ppm.

Alkalinity, pH, and chloride are also factors that can impact on sheep productivity. Knowing the thresholds that sheep at different physiological stages can handle for these different factors can impact on weaning rates, growth rates and ewe survival. Producers commented on the need to change which livestock are on waters now that this information has been given, and look at ways of improving water quality. Producers were also interested on obtaining further tests.

Water budgeting is also important, especially those properties solely reliant on surface water runoff. Evaporation can reduce available water by up to 50%, impacting on the number of stock days a paddock can support. Producers were able to calculate water budgets for various dams and tanks, which has given an approximate measure of how many sheep days are available.

The workshop also covered the latest in telemetry innovations, which can drastically reduce the costs of ‘water runs' and increase efficiency for a pastoral business.

If you are interested in attending a workshop, or would like further information, contact Chelsea Muster (08 8842 1103) or Deb Allen (08 8648 5177).

Last changed: Feb 16 2012



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