Eaglerise Farm Water Management
Swales at Eaglerise Farm
In 2020 we started implementing our farm swale design. One of our aims with swales is to develop a broad habitat linkage for squirrel gliders, Petaurus norfolcensis, by planting Eucalyptus blakelyi every 30 metres along them. This increase in the edge effect will greatly increase the habitat area as it links our existing revegetation areas. Gliders were present in this landscape in the past and we would love to get them back. It will take many years until the trees are suitable habitat, but we are patient. These redgums will also provide shade and a windbreak as they act as paddock trees for our livestock. The Blakelyi are being inter-planted with acacias. Being legumes, the acacias will impact on the paddock soil nitrogen through direct nitrogen fixing and through their seeds and leaves being consumed by our livestock and deposited around the paddock.
Another aim is to slow the rain runnoff from the paddock and increase soil moisture. To increase this water infiltration we are planning to gradually, rip contours between the swales. The process here is to rip very slowly to ensure we don’t bring up any sub-soil. With a wider tractor, it is an option to roll in the previous rip-line. Our small tractor put us too close and, the relatively narrow tyres, caused rip-line collapse when we tried to roll the line in, so, we spaced the rip-lines wider. This ripping also breaks up any hard pan.
In June 2020, three months after constructing the swales, we had a 43 mm rainfall event. Here you can see the effectiveness of the swales as water harvesting. The higher swales are in coarser, sandy gravel soil and most of the rainfall has been absorbed through the rip lines. As we walk down the paddock, you can see the different soil where the onion grass is growing. This has increased runnoff and this can be seen in the water laying in the swales.
The exciting thing here is imagining the effect of this increased ground water on soil biology, pasture growth and eventually farm and native animal improvement. We need to employ the permaculture principle of “small and slow solutions”
Months later the revegetation and stabilisation can be seen.
Eaglerise Farm Water Distribution Lines.
Here is our Eaglerise Farm Water Distribution map. The main line is in blue. It is a 1 inch poly pipe and commences at the seasonal spring in Gully 3 and feeds most of the farm, including 2 tanks above the house that act as a low supply buffer. It was installed in 2004 when the only farm enterprise was Dorper sheep. Generally, there was amply water available then.
In 2020, we installed our high tank to supply water to two troughs above the seasonal spring. This opened up two paddocks to improved grazing efficiency when the stock didn’t need to walk quite a distance to the nearest trough. It is shown as a pink line,
The red line is a 45 mm line that was installed in 2019 to supply water to the vineyard. It also establishes another line from the vineyard dam to the double tanks.
The pale green line was originally installed, but the end is too high for water from the tanks to supply.
The troughs are, generally, 500 litre plastic round troughs. It is possible to move and install these light troughs manually, by yourself. However, the pigs did not respect the plastic sheep/cattle troughs!
The orange line is a system being developed to provide water for the paddocks at the top of the hill. It will be supplied by delivering tanks of water via ute and pumping into the tanks.