Agricultural rainwater harvesting, a case study – James farms in north Leicestershire near its border with Nottinghamshire and is close to completing his rainwater harvesting project which has been in development for the past two years. With over 500 hectares and 40,000 egg-laying chickens, his mains water bills are a considerable cost to the farm.
Following the construction of a new farm building and being totally reliant on mains water, James calculated that from his two largest buildings with a total roof area of 44,800 square feet he could successfully harvest rainwater which would have a dramatic effect on his annual mains water charges.
James applied for a grant from DEFRA and some three months later his application was approved and he received 40% of his total rainwater harvesting costs from the Government.
James installed a complete rainwater harvesting system himself complete with filters, pipework and eight Enduratank 26,000-litre rainwater tanks.
James uses his harvested rainwater for spraying and cleaning out his chicken sheds. With over 1,200 acres on his arable farm, James sprays at least 10 times annually and at a mains supply cost of around £1.43 per cubic metre, he is able to achieve substantial savings by using harvested rainwater. Spraying with rainwater also generally achieves a far better result than mains water. The pH levels in mains water can fluctuate throughout the day and may affect the efficacy of the spray which could require the addition of buffering agents to maintain a constant pH at 5.0. With some hard water constituents including iron and calcium, pesticides containing glyphosate and sulfonylureas can be rendered almost useless and it is accepted that softer water is generally more effective with chemical sprays and as such harvested rainwater can save not only on the cost of mains water but also on the requirement to purchase water additives or conditioners.
James is able to achieve substantial savings by using harvested rainwater and having seen the benefits of rainwater harvesting he is in the process of upgrading and increasing the capacity of a similar system fitted at his second farm situated a few miles away.
View more on our agricultural rainwater harvesting systems here