Whether you run a production, wholesale, or retail site, an adequate supply of water is always important. However, you may not be aware of the large amount of water wastage. The Nursery and Garden Industry Australia's (NGIA) Best Practice Guidelines states: 'Water use efficiencies as low as 10% are common in Australian nurseries.'
Significant profits can be made from efficient water use
- Water bills are significantly reduced.
- Water recycling and runoff management allows further use of water for free.
- Water efficiency also encourages good business practices.
- The uniformity of crops increases, as does their quality.
- Dispatch costs are also reduced.
Three main areas to focus on water efficiency in nurseries are:
Many nurseries irrigate all plants to the needs of the driest, most water thirsty plant. This may mean that up to 80% of plants are receiving too much water! Irrigation must be designed and managed properly.
Recycling water reduces consumption of mains water and limits the amount of runoff from the site.
Managing runoff has many benefits; one of which is to help recover used water safely for treatment and recycling.
Water efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean buying new products
It is often a matter of good site design and management. This includes such activities as arranging plants for efficient water application and educating staff. Develop a management plan that encourages all workers to get involved.
If you are planning to incorporate water efficient practices into your business, seek further expert advice. The NGIA can provide information on training courses and sources of detailed information. Also, remember to consult your local council/shire, your water authority and your electricity supplier on local issues and regulations.
Other benefits of saving water in nurseries
- A water efficient nursery will reduce your water bills. Savings could increase in the future, as the price of water may rise as water becomes a scarcer resource.
- Recycling water can reduce fertiliser needs by up to 30%, as excess water doesn’t leach it out of the pots.
- Efficient and even water application improves the health of the plant stock and ensures fewer diseased plants are discarded.
- Water efficient nurseries can reduce their impact on the environment by reducing pesticide, nutrient, and pathogen flow into the surrounding streams.
- A water efficient nursery contributes less to stormwater flow, reducing the need for costly public stormwater projects.
- A water efficient nursery can look tidy and organised. Low run-off cuts down on the channelling of water, which can contribute to erosion.
- Water efficient management can improve the image of the business, by showing that you care for the environment.
- Water efficient nurseries are well prepared for the occurrence of drought or mains water supply failure.
- Water efficient businesses help reduce the demand for expensive water infrastructure projects, including dams, which often have to be situated in environmentally sensitive areas.