AGRICULTURE NEWS - Severe water restrictions across the country, along with crumbling municipal infrastructure, debilitating drought and the pollution of water reserves, have left many farmers with little choice: they must make the most of the water they have.
Soil management, rainwater harvesting and proper storage of water all affect how efficiently farmers make use of water resources.
While agriculture consumes about 75% of the rainfall in South Africa, 60% is utilised by natural vegetation, 12% by dryland crop production and 3% by irrigation. It is therefore imperative that this rain is used optimally and every drop put to good use.
South Africa receives an average annual rainfall of 495mm. This is less than half of the world’s average of 1 033mm.
In fact, South Africa is one of the 20 most water-scarce countries in the world. Since 98% of the freshwater resources in South Africa are already considered fully allocated, on-farm rainwater harvesting is crucial to keep irrigation systems running.
Hylton Cruse, Mpumalanga sales agent for water storage tank supplier Rainbow Reservoirs, says that farmers should assess their water needs and make provision for storage capacity before the rainy season to capitalise on every drop.
He says the best place to initiate rainwater harvesting is the roofs of buildings. “A house or outbuilding with a roof surface area of 1 500m² can save 1 500l of water for every millimetre of rainfall.