Farm dams provide essential water for stock, irrigation and gardens. They also provide a habitat for wildlife, water for fire protection and can be used for recreation.
Farm dams can be damaged by uncontrolled stock access, polluting water with dung and urine, disturbing the soil, and damaging vegetation, causing erosion and sedimentation. Pesticide and herbicide run-off can affect water quality, as can the location of farm infrastructure such as roads and stock yards. Poor water quality can harm stock growth, lactation and reproduction.
Maintaining a healthy dam with clean water can improve the health of your animals, and increase the productivity and value of your land. However, this requires not just managing the farm dam but also its catchment. This includes the land, drainage lines and drainage depressions that carry water which flows into the dam. By managing the catchment area as a whole, the dam will be healthier and have flow-on benefits for stock health and farm productivity.
Having well-vegetated banks and preventing or limiting stock access through fencing is the best answer for the immediate dam environment. However, the catchment areas should be well vegetated with 80 percent ground cover and 100 percent ground cover in drainage lines and depressions that flow into the dam. Pastures with deep-rooted perennial grasses help reduce soil loss, slow water and filter nutrients. This means that valuable topsoil and nutrients stay on your pastures and are not washed into the dam.
More information on how to manage farm dams can be found in the Farm Dam handbook (PDF, 2162.59 KB).
What you can do
- Use fences to limit or prevent stock access to dams. If stock access to the dam is totally removed, consider using alternative troughs to water stock.
- Maintain or re-plant native grasses and shrubs to maintain groundcover near dams and along drainage lines and depressions.
- Avoid using fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides near dams.
- Plant reeds and rushes around dam inflows to help filter out sediments and nutrients before they enter the dam.