Sometimes we have too much and at other times, not enough water. What can we do with the rainwater that we receive, to make it more effective?
We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.
It is all about the soil!
by David Proctor
May 26, 2022
Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine Published Weekly
The importance of water in our life is huge.
Sometimes it is hard to think about what we would do without clean water, mainly because all we have to do is turn on the tap and water will keep coming out till we turn it off.
I have been thinking about water lately as I hear about how clean water has been taken for granted.
Ask the people in Flint Michigan how they feel about clean water.
Ask the landowners with wells that have been polluted from mining underground resources, how they feel about clean water.
Growing up in Missouri, with all the lakes, rivers, and streams, it is hard to imagine what farmers and ranchers went through and how the western part of the country has dealt with riparian rights for years and water management.
There have been many battles fought over water and who has control of it in the past and present-day time.
Beyond just having fun with water, what can we do to help stem droughts and lack of water?
Often, we think of water shortage as a lack of rainfall so there is nothing we can do about it.
But what if we changed that thought to the inability to keep water on the land instead of it becoming runoff.
Now we have an issue that we can attempt to control.
One way to control runoff is by slowing the pace of water as it flows downhill.
Water can also be trapped by building more ponds in elevated areas.
High Elevation Pond – Polyface Farm
This way water can be used in agriculture for distribution without having expensive pumps.
Water can be trapped from rooftops by rain barrels and cisterns.
When I was small and on my grandparent’s farm, they did not have city water under pressure to them, they had two cisterns, one that collected water from the house and the other collected water from the barn.
Just off the kitchen of the farmhouse, on the porch or mudroom was a hand crank water pump that was used to retrieve water from the well below.
In rural and urban areas, rain barrels can be used to trap water for distribution to lawns and gardens.
This is very seldom used even though it is very effective for retaining water.
A drip hose attached to a rain barrel can supply water for the times when rain is not as prevalent.
When the water is kept on the land, the water is filtered to underground water sources such as aquifers.
One of the big problems that happen when these underground aquifers are over-utilized, is the ground can collapse and have sinkholes, plus an increase in water salinity if by the coast.
One of the best ways to keep water in the soil is with carbon.
Carbon is a very effective sponge that can absorb water.
For every gram of soil organic carbon, this represents 8 grams of water that can be held on the land, according to Author Judith Schwartz, Water in Plain Sight.
If we can build up the carbon in our soil we can help with the process of effective rain.
One of the best ways to build up carbon in the soil is through livestock.
Under controlled grazing and by mimicking how nature did with large herds and predators, the land that is turning into deserts can be reversed, per Allan Savory, a biologist from Africa.
This is one of Joel Salatin’s techniques that he has been utilizing at Polyface farm, and he has had remarkable results in land reclamation.
Managed Grazing of Cows – Polyface Farm
In the urban areas, we can help by mulching our gardens so the moisture is retained for the plants.
The mulching will also act as weed control so your plants do not have to compete for water and sunlight.
In areas that are wetlands, it is very important to keep the land that way.
Wetlands help filter water and keep it from just running into the wastewater system in urban and city areas.
When you look at your land and it has just rained, does the ground appear to be drying out rapidly, or do your plants hold in the moisture?
According to Allan Savory, all droughts are manmade.
That is, we do not use our rainwater effectively.
Think about some of these points as we head into the heat of the summer and you see the ground cracks forming and continued forest fires raging.
The most valuable resource we have is clean water.
Check It Out!
Allan Savory Ted Talk 22:19
How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change | Allan Savory
- If you are concerned about the water you drink, use a good water filter
- Use drip irrigation
- New toilets provide better water savings
- Don’t water the lawn while it is raining
- Fix the faucet leaks that you may have
- Make sure you don’t see bare earth, use ground cover to retain moisture
Schwartz, Judith D. Water in Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World. New York: St. Martin’s, 2016.