Rainwater Harvesting for Irrigation of Organic Vegetables
I am in the coordination phase for the rainwater harvesting project. Through networking with local business entities I have acquired some of the required materials at a lower cost than originally projected within the budget. This included spouting that is being used in the project, a water pump, and access to the water storage tanks. At this time, items purchased are not being submitted as grant costs.
The water rainwater collection areas are made up of two adjacent buildings. One building is a barn which is 55 feet x 60 feet on the north roof where the water will be collected. The other building is a machine shed which is 25 feet x 72 feet on the south roof where water will be collected. The spouting has been installed on the barn and shed being used in this project. The system has not yet been put into service.
The objective of the project is to demonstrate a water conservation method that saves costs and contributes to an economically viable operation. There are three outcomes thus far that have been realized. The first is the difficulty that water conservation is confronted with during a drought. During the summer of 2012, very little rainfall was recorded. The amount was so small that the rainwater harvesting project would not have been able to supply the planned vegetable garden with the minimum requirement for water.
Secondly, there are many low-cost resources available within the community that can save costs in the implementation of a rainwater harvesting system (such as use of used pumps and used spouting). My project is benefiting from the extra time spent to get these resources at a bargain, in some cases free, cost.
Thirdly, the practicality of using portable water tanks has revealed itself as an obvious benefit to this project. I am reassessing how I might utilize this alternative storage system because water could be shared with other farmers, transported down the road to additional sites, and more easily stored because the space designated for water collection is currently limited- full tanks could be moved and empty ones put in their place.
In 2013 and early 2014, the system will be fully implemented. Installation of the final components will be performed during the spring of 2014. Once the system is installed, a garden will be supplemented with the water from the project. Later in the summer of 2013, a request for minor changes to the project may be submitted to Joan Benjamin.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
I plan to conduct farm field days to share the experiences and outcomes of the Rainwater Collection Reservoir project. I also plan to coordinate a date to host a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day to share the demonstration project outcomes. In addition, the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter, located in the Keota School District, will come out to the farm and learn about sustainable agricultural systems and water conservation for saving costs.
I will be a resource for farmers who wish to implement similar rainwater reservoirs for agricultural use. Through speaking at public events, college business and environmental science classes, and to junior high/high school students regarding the outcomes of this project, an appreciation of water conservation and its impact will be realized.