By Dale Watson

University Extension Center

Carrolton, MO


The availability of water continues to be on the mind of many producers. Even though some have received various amounts of rainfall, many are still experiencing water shortages. I have had numerous requests for thoughts and ideas for developing alternative sources of water. Since many watering systems operate off water impoundments, runoff is a very important source of water for both rural and metropolitan areas. Water districts are a definite possibility, but these can be expensive.

I have visited with many producers who are concerned with the possibility of going into the spring and summer with the water level in many ponds and lakes lower than normal. On several operations alternative water sources can be located and developed to provide watering assistance for livestock. One of these sources may be wells that are already present and can be modified with a pumping system to provide water.

One very important management tool is to check for nitrate in this source of water. This can be checked through numerous nutrition and health laboratories.

Another alternative is the development of a spring if there is one on your farm. Oftentimes these are very apparent when we have experienced a wet year. Producers generally know the location of these possible water sources. We have assembled information and ideas for capturing this source of water. Frequently these ideas can be combined with or assist with your thoughts for providing water. A check for possible nitrates is again suggested.

If a spring provides a quart of water per minute this translates into 360 gallons per day. This is why it is important to know the amount produced and gallons required on a daily basis. Knowing the holding capacity of watering tanks is a must when using these sources for water. The following formulas can be used to determine the capacity of different shapes of tanks. Use either inches or feet within each calculation; do not mix the measure dimensions.

For rectangular tanks or troughs with square sides the capacity in gallons is determined by multiplying the width times the length times the depth times 7.46 (width x length x depth x 7.46 = gallons). Tanks that are V shaped can be calculated using the same formula and dividing the number of gallons by two. For round or circular tanks the capacity in gallons is determined by multiplying the diameter times diameter times depth x 5.86 (diameter x diameter x depth x 5.86 = gallons). Curved bottom tanks can be calculated by multiplying the width times width times length times 2.93 (width x width x length x 2.93). Tanks with slanting sides require a measurement taken prior to the calculation. Measure the width of the tank at the point that is one-half of the total depth. Use this number for the first portion of the formula. Multiply the width at one-half the total depth times depth times length times 7.46 (width at 1/2 the depth x depth x length x 7.46).

For more information feel flee to contact the University of Missouri Outreach and Extension Service, North Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633.

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