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Water Management and Irrigation for a new Homestead

 
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Hey guys. Been around a little bit trying to do my research before my wife and I move to start a new homestead next year. Been dreaming of this for a while and never thought I'd get to do it, let alone this soon. But there's one question that's been troubling me more than any other since I began, and its the question of water.

We are going to have a tight budget starting out. No money for big irrigation systems or equipment (somehow I doubt most homesteaders use that anyways) and no money for our own excavator to dig irrigation ditches everywhere.  So I'm puzzling and puzzling over how to manage water for my crops? What do you all do? I don't actually have land yet, but general suggestions on how to keep crops watered without resorting to lots of equipment, or being relegated to hours with the garden hose, are very welcome.  Also, any suggestions for what to look for when buying land, as it pertains to water, are very welcome.

Thanks!
 
pollinator
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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I suggest it is best to purchase land, where the access to water fits in with your needs.
45 years ago I dug drains and channels by hand when the ground was wet.
It was hard and slow, today I would hire somebody to help.
But I have purchased a tractor and ditch digger which is a rotating blade that throws the dirt sideways and leaves a semi circular shaped ditch.
I believe you need to budget for some equipment to make life easier and get things going faster.
As for spending money on stuff, if you plan to use 2 inch poly pipe things will be costly, but effective. Any smaller is really a time consuming effort.
Feel free to contact me when you are closer to purchasing.
Where are you hoping to go and what size block do you have in mind?
 
Nikolai Stepanovitch
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John C Daley wrote:I suggest it is best to purchase land, where the access to water fits in with your needs.
45 years ago I dug drains and channels by hand when the ground was wet.
It was hard and slow, today I would hire somebody to help.
But I have purchased a tractor and ditch digger which is a rotating blade that throws the dirt sideways and leaves a semi circular shaped ditch.
I believe you need to budget for some equipment to make life easier and get things going faster.
As for spending money on stuff, if you plan to use 2 inch poly pipe things will be costly, but effective. Any smaller is really a time consuming effort.
Feel free to contact me when you are closer to purchasing.
Where are you hoping to go and what size block do you have in mind?



Thanks John,

We are going to be going to the Ft Wayne, Indiana area, looking to get from 5-10 acres. I'd prefer 10, but 5 might be more reasonable at this time. I'd really prefer to get a tractor to offer me these options, but we don't have enough saved to add that to our list of essentials. I want to look into getting some kind of agricultural loan to help us get that, and build an barn/outbuilding if needed. But my wife is very uneasy about getting any big equipment on a loan, at least at this point. Still working on that.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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I looked at that area, to see the water conditions. What part would be where you are thinking, I found many blocks everywhere in the end.
Can you get something with a creek, can you use rainfall catchment?
 
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Nikolai Stepanovitch wrote: No money for big irrigation systems or equipment (somehow I doubt most homesteaders use that anyways) and no money for our own excavator to dig irrigation ditches everywhere.  



Nikolai ... I'm trying to balance that statement with being on as little as 5 acres.  If you're on five acres, your irrigation problems can't be that big!  You can get water to 5 acres with very inexpensive drip tape and supporting equipment - presuming you have a water source that can actually handle 60+ gpm.

I don't mean to dismiss your concern - this is an important consideration!  If you're planning on commercially farming right away, then you'll either need to match water to your planned crop, or match your crop to the rainfall & water.  I like the approach of observing for at least a year, then getting going with earthworks.  Water strategies are built into Permaculture and so you might consider hugels, silvopasture and water-stacking techniques and bypass the whole idea of irrigation instead.

And definitely no need to get a loan on a tractor.  Tractors are tough and can live (?) a long time.  A used one can serve you well!
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