Profit Tips: Facilities - Water improvements during drought

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As drought continues across much of the country, watershed specialists from Kansas State University offer these tips for providing water to livestock. Each involves time, effort and expense, but they could pay off in the long run.

• Extend water pipelines to pastures or feeding areas. The monthly cost of electricity to pump water is relatively low, even compared to the cost of pond construction and maintenance. In spite of monthly water bills, rural water can be a wise, economical choice. Pipelines typically cost about $2 per linear foot, including $1 for pipe and $1 for the trench and installation. If the system is being installed for occasional or emergency use, producers should consider a freeze-proof hydrant at the site.

• Add solar pumps. Abandoned well or windmill sites could be worth reviving with solar power. Most solar pumps for these uses are submersible and require at least 3- to 5-inch casing openings. In order to economically justify a solar-pump system, the site needs to be over one-quarter mile from an electric power source. The basic solar-pump system will cost between $2,500 and $3,500. If the water is deeper than 200 feet, additional solar panels for increased pumping lift will add to the cost. Some producers mount their solar-pump system on a trailer to move from pasture to pasture. Be sure to check the well recharge rate before making the investment in the well site.

• Drill new wells, if groundwater is available. The cost of drilling a well is about $2,500 plus about $20 per foot for depths beyond 120 feet.

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