Texas Agriculture June 3, 2016 : Page 6

Capturing life By Ed Wolff Video Services Director Water is Texas’ most precious re-source. Rain has been plentiful late-ly, but farmers and ranchers like Bob Durham of Abernathy know first-hand how quickly that can change. “We had to sell out due to the drought here in ’11. And we decided then that we needed to capture some of this runoff water,” Durham, Hock-ley County Farm Bureau member, said. The drought is still fresh in his mind. He remembers when it wouldn’t rain. So now when it does, he’s ready—30,000 gallons ready. Durham reached out to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natu-ral Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS). They helped him build a system to harvest a new crop—rainwater. “Rainwater harvesting is a rela-tively new practice. It’s a very valu-able practice, particularly on the High Plains. We have a limited re-source in the Ogallala Aquifer,” said Greg Sokora, NRCS zone engineer in Lubbock. “We need to protect our aquifer. We need to extend the life of it, and rainfall harvesting is one way of doing it.” Six grey tanks now sit behind Durham’s two barns. Gutters catch the water and send it to a pipe, separating the first flow of rainwa-ter, which is the dirtiest. Once that pipe fills, the clean water flows into the 5,000-gallon tanks. From there, gravity carries the water through underground pipes to cattle troughs Rainwater harvest helps Texas farmers, ranchers “One hundred square foot of roof area and a one-inch rain will produce about 60 gallons of water. When you multiply that on a large barn, it’s quite a significant amount of water,” Sokora said. Research is flowing at the state level as well. Hockley County Farm Bureau member Bob Durham and NRCS Zone Engineer Greg Sokora inspect the tanks that harvest rainwater. in Durham’s pastures. Of the 10 pas-tures on this ranch, eight are fed by rainwater. A two-inch rain can water 25 head of cattle for a month. The Texas A&M AgriLife Exten-sion Center in Dallas has been work-ing with rainwater harvesting for 20 years. But the last five have been the ALICE EDGARS FARM EQUIP. & SERVICE 361-664-5022 361-227-0916 J UNE 3 , 2016 STAR MOORE'S SERVICE CENTER 325-948-3595 TAYLOR K & M MFG CO. INC. 512-352-2588 hayking.com Introducing Vermeer N-series balers – the newest models in the fl agship line from the company that started it all. Heavy-duty components provide superior strength and durability. Smart features like the available automatic pickup clutch and auto lube system further extend machine life. Plus, they’re backed by the best distribution network in the industry. Vermeer 604N/605N balers are here to stay. 6 Bob Durham (right) was recognized by the Texas Water Development Board with the Texas Rain Catchers Award, a first in agriculture.

Capturing Life

Ed Wolff

Water is Texas’ most precious resource. Rain has been plentiful lately, but farmers and ranchers like Bob Durham of Abernathy know firsthand how quickly that can change.

“We had to sell out due to the drought here in ’11. And we decided then that we needed to capture some of this runoff water,” Durham, Hockley County Farm Bureau member, said.

The drought is still fresh in his mind. He remembers when it wouldn’t rain. So now when it does, he’s ready—30,000 gallons ready.

Durham reached out to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS). They helped him build a system to harvest a new crop—rainwater.

“Rainwater harvesting is a relatively new practice. It’s a very valuable practice, particularly on the High Plains. We have a limited resource in the Ogallala Aquifer,” said Greg Sokora, NRCS zone engineer in Lubbock. “We need to protect our aquifer. We need to extend the life of it, and rainfall harvesting is one way of doing it.”

Six grey tanks now sit behind Durham’s two barns. Gutters catch the water and send it to a pipe, separating the first flow of rainwater, which is the dirtiest. Once that pipe fills, the clean water flows into the 5,000-gallon tanks. From there, gravity carries the water through underground pipes to cattle troughs in Durham’s pastures. Of the 10 pastures on this ranch, eight are fed by rainwater. A two-inch rain can water 25 head of cattle for a month.

“One hundred square foot of roof area and a one-inch rain will produce about 60 gallons of water. When you multiply that on a large barn, it’s quite a significant amount of water,” Sokora said.

Research is flowing at the state level as well.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center in Dallas has been working with rainwater harvesting for 20 years. But the last five have been the most popular. Much of their research is focused on residential uses, but interest in agriculture use is growing. Mainly for watering livestock. But there’s a flood of potential.

“It’s getting popular for firefighting. We have a lot of people just wanting to put up very, very large cisterns and storing that water just in case there is a grass fire,” said Dr. Dotty Woodson, water resources specialist with AgriLife Extension.

Watering wildlife is another option, plus some small scale irrigation.

Since rainwater is pH neutral, some have found it useful for crop spraying. And it can reduce erosion caused by runoff.

It’s another option for agriculture. It may not replace surface water or groundwater, but it can be a vital part of conserving and preserving this natural resource. Both in the country and the city.

“With the increase in population, there’s going to be a high need to start collecting your own water just to supplement what the systems provide you in addition to the benefits with regard to water quality and conservation,” said AgriLife Extension Specialist Dr. Fouad Jaber.

When it comes to conservation, passion is a word that describes Durham. The Texas Water Development Board recognized that. He recently won the Texas Rain Catchers Award, a first in agriculture.

“I’m proud. And I’m proud I was selected number one in the state. That’s quite an honor as far as I’m concerned,” Durham said. “It’s just so important that we save our water, underground as well as surface water, too.”

For farmers and ranchers, conserving water is second nature. More than anyone else, they know there’s life in every drop.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Capturing+Life/2500388/307614/article.html.

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