World of Water: Water innovations for your farm
By Mary K. FoyFeatures Poultry Equipment
Exploring the evolution of water systems, from innovations in water storage to treatment.
A common question I am often asked is “What’s new in water?” I started working in the poultry industry in 1994 and in those 29 years there has been a lot of “new in water”. Research and practice have taught us all how vital water is to feed conversion and the health of our birds.
As growth and performance efficiency have improved, the demand for quality water has increased significantly. No longer can we fill an open trough with water and leave it for a few days. The advancement of the water systems on our farms has some of us operating what feels like miniaturized city water treatment systems!
With all the new companies and products that have entered the market in the last few decades, what innovations should you be focused on when it comes to providing water for your birds?
Water storage is an ancient tool. However, with the increased performance of our animals, we are finding an increased need for a consistent water supply. The drought in the plains of Canada in the early 2000s emphasized the increased agricultural dependance on water. As a result, water storage has become a much more common occurrence than it used to be.
It can be as basic as a dugout that collects rainwater, all the way to 10,000-gallon tanks with their own heated buildings. This increase in the demand for storage has prompted an entire new industry that caters to a farmer’s requirements. It has also prompted the revamping of the laws and needed licensing for water storage in each province or territory.
If you are considering water storage for your farm, be sure to research what is allowed and the legal requirements for the type of water storage you plan to use.
Water treatment innovation is mostly focused on the safety and automation of the system being used. The basics of water treatment is choosing an oxidizer (hydrogen peroxide or chlorine) to treat the water and, if needed, an acid to activate the chlorine by lowering pH or an acid to simply lower the pH in the water for various other reasons.
Beyond this, one needs to consider the safety, ease of use and required attention of a chosen system. There are several systems that use an electric water meter on the incoming water line to trigger the injection of a product into the water line through a pump. The goal here is to choose a system that can treat the entire farm, including underground water lines, and pull directly from the product container so you are not mixing stock solutions.
Choosing a treatment system that does not require the mixing of a stock solution or the excessive handling of products is considered a safer and more consistent alternative to the use of a medicator and stock solutions.
Digital communication is another advancement in water treatment. Several systems are able to communicate with an app on your phone letting you know product levels and allowing you to adjust injection rates remotely.
Water volume, flow and pressure
While many growers have been able to keep up with the amount of water their birds are drinking on a daily basis thanks to the controllers in the anterooms, most of us are still learning how that data is best utilized. Real time monitoring allows us to, again, use an app connected to a monitoring device to watch the water flow and volume in our barns. We are now able to quickly detect (or have an alarm for) a leak or no water flow at all right from our phone.
The graphing capabilities of some of these apps allows us to see trends in the water consumption that may help us head off an illness in the birds or a sneaking malfunction in the equipment. Depending on your needs, you can have volume, flow and/or pressure all reported to an app.
Mary K. Foy is the director of technical services for Proxy-Clean Products. The U.S. company’s cleaning solution is used in Canada as part of the Water Smart Program developed by Weeden Environments and Jefo Inc.
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