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Civil Engineering Services: The Need for Farm Dams and Detention Storage in Australia

06 May 2019

Farm dams help water-starved, food-growing regions to flourish. That’s a particularly attractive promise, especially in areas that don’t get much rain. Parts of Australia feature conspicuously as arid regions, which is worrying since this great continent is heavily populated. Granted, the population occupies great swathes of coastal land, but Australians are moving inwards, and they’re bringing their farms with them. One more time, then, what about farm dam engineering?

End-Line Agricultural Hydrology

Let’s talk about farmland hydrology. There are crops growing and livestock subsiding on arid land. They need nutrition. More important than food, they need life-sustaining water. Irrigation systems provide the drinkable and crop supporting fluid, but where does that initial supply come from if this is a dry region? It’s too expensive to pipe in the water, plus well-digging efforts may not yield any watery results, so a farm owner decides to explore farm dams. Calling on a professionally adept technical services company, a single farmer or an entire regions-worth of agricultural managers wants to know more about this option.

An Essential Need for Farm Dams

That end-line solution uses ducts and trenches, pumps and all sorts of water managing systems. Rudimentary irrigation methods are there, then there are advanced solar-powered assets, too. But wait a moment, where are the initial resources? A volume of supply water, a reservoir of some kind, must be at hand. By assessing land topography, surface water features are altered in significant ways. For example, a river can be partially blocked by a reinforced wall. This “dam” funnels runoff at a predetermined rate so that the hindered river water accumulates behind the farm dam wall. It’s this artificial reservoir that provides a new source of irrigation water, both for the thirsty crops and the equally parched farm livestock.

Farm Dams: The Engineering Considerations

There’s not just the engineering challenges to assess, there’s also the environmental impact. What about the land that’ll flood? Will this affect local wildlife or other natural land features? Loss of habitat, sedimentary changes and land erosion issues, even water quality problems, all of those environmental engineering problems need to be addressed and solved before a farm dam can be constructed. Once they’re fixed, though, there’s a whole new set of engineering challenges to work on, including the actual structural operations. That dam, holding back millions of litres of water, must be strengthened and structurally bolstered so that it safely and reliably performs its role in an irrigation improvement strategy.

At last count, there are over 2 million farm dams in Australia. No matter the design or implementation strategy, each one was modelled in software or under artificially controlled conditions before a single bucket of hard-setting concrete was ever poured.

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