Water meters (abstraction point)
The precise measurement of water is crucial in developing efficient, sustainable, and highly productive farming practices. For the accurate measurement of consumption, code requirement 3.1 of the SIZA Environmental Standard states that the installation of water meters should be at the main points of abstraction, disposal (if applicable) and ideally at major consumption points (orchards, vineyards, packhouse, infrastructure, etc.).
Water use registration for dams
The applicable legislation for the abstracting and storing of significant amounts of water is clear. The storing of more than 10 000m3 of water on a property is required to be registered with the responsible authority as per Government Notice no. 538, in Government Gazette no. 40243 (2 September 2016). The above-mentioned government notice also states that any water storage facility (dam or reservoir) that has a wall of 5 m or higher, and has a storage capacity exceeding 50 000m3, poses a safety risk and requires registration with the Dam Safety office within the DWS (Department of Water and Sanitation).
The National Water Act’s Section 21(a) may also be triggered if these water storage facilities are filled through the abstraction of water from a groundwater or surface water source. A site’s management should be able to provide written confirmation of the total amounts of water that have been legally allocated and those amounts that have been abstracted from the water source. Documents of confirmation from the DWS, local Catchment Management Agency (CMA), neighbourhood Water User Association (WUA) or irrigation board (IB) are accepted as per (2.9.2) on the Environmental audit checklist.
Water Use Efficiency
Water use efficiency (WUE) should be an integral component of farming practices as it leads to more sustainable usage of scarce resources and increases the profitability of yields.
Management should therefore aim to determine the farmed crop’s water usage efficiency (WUE). When possible, WUE should be calculated per block. The WUE calculation includes the number of litres of water irrigated per kilogram or ton of crop produced. It is advised that the annual WUEs be compared to establish a baseline for each crop or block and set reasonable goals compared to the baseline. The following records should be used to calculate the WUE accurately:
- The volumes of water used to produce the crop (in litres or m3)
- The amount of fruit produced, including fruit wastage (in kilograms or tonnes)
For example, in 2021, a farmer irrigated 4500m3 of water on his/her crop and produced 800 kg of fruits (including waste) during this crop cycle.
|Volume of water irrigated per crop (L or m3)||4500m3|
|Weight of crop produced including waste (kg or T)||800 kg|
As a result, the farm used 5.625m3 of water per kg of fruit produced during the 2021 crop cycle.
As the efficiency of any production input is measured in metrics, SIZA implemented the Digital Recordkeeping Tool as part of the MySIZA platform to ease the process around the interpretation and monitoring of current management practices. The SIZA Digital Recordkeeping Tool is a monitoring tool that will allow management to capture their production inputs, such as water, production, fuel, electricity, fertilisers, chemicals, and waste each month.
Data entered as part of the tool will be automatically processed into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are measurable values such as water-use efficiency, fuel use efficiency, and product used per hectare that illustrate how effectively a company is achieving its goals and objectives.