Rainwater Capture and Reuse Using Gravity and Solar Power

Final Report for FNC09-784

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $5,712.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
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Project Information

Summary:

PROJECT BACKGROUND
–65 acre grass based farm and rent 20 additional acres
–Raise grass fed beef and lamb and pasture poultry
–Rotationally graze cattle and sheep, chickens are in tractors which are moved daily
–No chemical fertilizer or herbicides/pesticides are used on our farm
–Livestock is raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.
–We direct market all the livestock we raise at farmers markets, restaurants, health food stores and off the farm
–Pasture poultry are raised in floorless pens which are moved daily letting the chickens fertilize the pasture naturally since 2004.
–Cattle are grazed using management intensive grazing in a paddock system since 2006.
–Sheep are also rotationally grazed since 2008.
–As mentioned above all fertilization of our pastures is done naturally by the animals.
–We use solar electric fence chargers rather than electricity powered units.

PROJECT GOALS
1. Eliminate rain runoff from the barn roof into the alleyway and livestock pen areas.
2. Collect this runoff and pipe it to our pond to be reused to water livestock in two paddocks where there is no water available.
3. Provide a safer working area for both ourselves and the livestock in the alleyway/pen areas.
4. Possibly using pond water to irrigate paddocks during dry conditions to increase forage availability.

PROCESS
1. Writing of the Farmer/Rancher Grant. What helped us greatly was to consult with a person that had written grants before.
2. Selecting good contractors. Our first choice was to use local contractors. Next was to use contractors that we had used previously or that were recommended by a friend.
3. Getting the work done in a timely manner. If possible hire as much of the labor as possible. Part way through the project Greg realized that he wouldn’t be able to do as much of the work as he had planned. Then toward the end of the project Greg had an accident which prevented him from working on the project for several months.
4. The drought of the past two years, 2011. 2012 also caused problems implementing our project due to very little or no rain at all.

PEOPLE
• Elieen Nichols, Webb City Farmers Market Manager, grant writing advisor
• Pat Burns, farmer/iron worker, framing for metal barn roof
• Mitchell Boggs, building contractor, roof and gutter installation
• Brad Campbell, excavating contractor, backhoe work and piping to pond

RESULTS
To date the results are somewhat limited due to the drought in SW Missouri for the past two years and lack of water in our pond. However the past three weeks we’ve had snow and rain like we haven’t seen for two years and hope that it will continue as the pond is filling again. This has been aided by the collection of snow melt and rain runoff from the barn roof.

Along with the recent snow/rain our alley way and pens have remained dry which has helped greatly with working livestock in those areas especially with lambing season upon us. It provides a safer working area for both us and our livestock and certainly a drier area for those newborn lambs to spend a few days in.

So far results have been as expected. We are looking forward to this summer and the pond returns to normal levels and we can see the results of collecting the runoff and pumping water to tanks for the livestock.

The only thing that we would do differently would be to collect water from both sides of the barn roof.

WHAT WE LEARNED
1. An appreciation of the SARE grants. Not only the financial assistance but SARE’s encouragement in doing projects that some might consider a little “out of the box” as well as SARE’s willingness to work with the farmer and make necessary adjustments.

2. Taking into account the limited results to date due to two years of drought, when we have received rain or snow our corral /working area has been a lot dryer than it would have before. This makes for a much nicer area for the livestock as well as a safer working area.

3. To date the barriers over come are a drier corral area, considerably less runoff and erosion. As the pond fills back up there is better water quality due to less erosion and there is a water supply for the various forms of wildlife.
Once the pond is full the barrier of no water in two of our paddocks for the livestock will have been overcome.

4. Advantages: being able to accomplish this project with the financial assistance of SARE. Otherwise we probably would not have been able to do this project. In addition to what we wanted to accomplish, a water source for our livestock, it feels good to know that we are also helping the farm’s environment by decreasing runoff and erosion, and providing habitat (for fish) as well as a water source for wildlife.

Disadvantages: you need rain for the whole project to work! We are encouraged by the rain/snow we’ve received the past two weeks so that maybe we will have a normal year as far as precipitation goes. Other than that I cannot think of any disadvantages.

5. We would and do tell other famers/ranchers about our SARE grant whenever the topic of grants comes up at meetings and conferences. We explain our grant, give them information on applying for a farmer/rancher grant and encourage them to do so.

OUTREACH
Initially our local newspaper did an article on us receiving the grant. We will have them do another now that the project is completed.

We moderated a Missouri Farm Beginnings course in 2011 and in one of the classes we gave a presentation on our farm and the SARE grant. We had a Powerpoint made based around the grant which we used here as well as in a webinar that Debi Kelly asked us to participate in. We also talk about the grant at conferences or meeting when the topic comes up. Nancy has given the Powerpoint and talked about the grant at several farmers market meetings. We are also looking into having a farm tour of interested vendors from the farmers market and another one for the local FFA chapter.

Research

Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.