A year ago we were feeling pretty excited about the new water tank we installed next to our shed as part of the ‘Hub’ infrastructure we built for the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op, funded by an Agriculture Victoria’s Food Source grant.

We were lucky with rainfall, the tank filled quickly, and has remained pretty much full ever since, despite being the main water source for Tess in her Sellar Farmhouse Creamery milk factory.

Why are we talking about this, when the tank’s old news, and we have plenty of water at the moment?

Because one of the principles we absolutely rely on on the farm and in our teaching, is that diversity = resilience. In the case of water, we reckon it’s a good plan to have access to as many different sources of water as possible — and definitely more than one!

Hugh improving the irrigation system
Hugh improving the irrigation system

We’re bringing it up now because autumn and winter are good times to be thinking about how to increase your water security and water capacity, and making improvements to your irrigation system.

The pressure is mostly off from being busy with harvest, but the logistics of your irrigation system are still fresh in your mind from summer — how easy or hard it was to run, whether you had enough water to grow a full, healthy crop of fruit, how much your water cost (if anything), and how well your trees managed with the amount of water you gave them.

We rely on water from four different sources – the Coliban Water irrigation system, our dams, storage in the soil (ie rainfall) and tanks, but we know from our experience in the big drought that sometimes this isn’t enough, and so we’re always looking to add more resilience into the system.

Our large farm dam - which also gets used for recreation!
Our large farm dam – which also gets used for recreation!

But of course your solutions to improving water security will probably be completely different.

They might include adding a tank, improving the efficiency of your irrigation system, improving the water-holding capacity of your soil, or installing a grey-water system.

This is a topic we’re passionate about, and have written three different short courses, plus an ebook on the topic, to help you improve your food growing resilience in a rapidly changing climate. It really is a topic none of us can avoid if we still want to be able to grow food in another 20, 30 or 50 years.

So if you’re planning to plant trees this year, or already have an established garden, now’s the time to either review how your irrigation system performed over summer, or plan to put a new system in.

We all need to be ready when (not if) the next drought (or flood) comes!

The big flood of 2011 breaking a dam wall
The big flood of 2011 breaking a dam wall
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