Bore water on small farms

As I’ve written previously, secure water on your small farm is one of the most important inputs no matter if you just want a small vegetable garden or to keep livestock as well. One option is dam water, but on some properties the soil doesn’t hold water, and if you don’t get regular rain, dams can dry up.
If you can find good bore water on your property, you are guaranteed a supply of water, even through a drought, however it is not always easy to find water underground.

Not all areas will have suitable underground water, so the best place to start is to talk to neighbours and your local drilling company. They will be able to advise whether there are any good bores on nearby properties, which could mean you have a chance of finding water at your place. Ideally, you want to find water with low salinity (salt content) and with sufficient flow for your desired usage. As a rough guide, most plants grow better with a salt content less than 700 ppm, chickens and pigs can tolerate around to 3000 ppm, beef cattle up to 4000 ppm (less for dairy cattle) and sheep up to 5000 ppm. The minerals in the water can also be a problem if they are present in high concentrations, so its best to get water tested in a laboratory. Unfortunately, you can’t be sure what you’re going to get until you start to drill, but you can ask around and find out what the water is like on other properties. 

If you do some research and think you have a good chance of finding good water on your property, you can start to choose potential bore sites. We have tried sites that have been divined and sites that have been chosen by the drillers and so far, the drillers are doing better, hitting water at one out of two tries, whereas the hole at the divined site was dry.
Capped farm bore
Whether you use a diviner or a driller to help you choose a bore site, try to find someone who has a good reputation for knowing your area and finding water. When you drill a bore, you will pay by the metre, no matter if they find water. You need to decide in advance how much you want to spend and how deep you are willing to go before you give up on a hole. "Water on your small farm is one of the most important inputs no matter if you just want a small vegetable garden or to keep livestock."
If you are lucky and find good water at a decent flow rate, then all you have to do is equip your bore with a pump and organise pipework to get the water where you want to use it. If you are careful with the water, and don’t waste it, you should have a good supply even through dry years, although water levels and flows can decrease during prolonged dry weather.

To me, having a bore drilled is a bit like gambling, you could waste a lot of money for nothing, but if you do hit good water you can feel like you won the lottery (and greatly improve the value of your property at the same time).

References for stock water salinity tolerance:
The author Liz lives on eight acres in south east Queensland, Australia, with her husband Peter and two dogs. They have a passion for small-scale organic farming  and producing and eating real food. They keep chickens, beef steers, two jersey cows and a big vegetable garden. Liz writes a blog about their farm to both inspire and help others who are interested in self-sufficiency, sustainability and permaculture. https://eight-acres.com.au

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