Saving Water

Project: 2020-1-CZ01-KA204-078269

Saving Water is an international project aimed to raise awareness of water consumption in agriculture and to find the best methods or technologies to improve efficiency in these sectors:

  • Saving water in livestock (Portugal)

  • Saving and keeping water in nature (Czech Republic)

  • Saving water in crop production (Bulgaria)

  • Using plant and animal residues and waste as an alternative source of energy (Spain)

Saving Water in livestock (Portugal)

Livestock is commonly defined as domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce labour and commodities such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool. Saving water in Livestock production plays an important role in Portugal.

The training programme will be focused on different methods used by various farmers and specialists to lower the consumptions of water on animal farms. It will also consist on topics such as usage and recycling of water in agriculture, using water for farm animals in welfare, way of education and consultancy, EU subsidies and taken governmental measures.

Prados de Melgaco (Goat farm)

As part of a project to exchange good experience and practice, we had the opportunity to visit an organic goat farm Prados de Melgaco. There are kept 240 female goats, 2 male goats and 1 donkey on this family farm. Goats are housed in the stable freely in various groups. Animal welfare is maximally ensured in the stable. According to the owner, a subsidy from the European Union was used to meet all the conditions for goat welfare. The hutchs are equipped with drinking water drinkers, scratchers and hay cribs. Into the trough, goats receive complete core feed in granular form, which is purchased from the production of feed mixtures in the area. Hay owners also buy from farmers on the border with Spain. Thus, all feed is provided from purchased sources. Mineral nutrition of goats is carried out in the form of mineral licks placed in each hutch. There are no grazing conditions in the given locality, and therefore the goats are closed in the stable all year round. Classical music plays from the speaker for more animal comfort. Thanks to the provision of clean bedding and a good climate in the stables, goats produce milk of a good quality without any negative odors that could pass into the milk if the environmental conditions are not met.

Milking of goats is performed on a modern parallel milking parlor for 2 x 10 goats, with 10 milking parlors common for both sides of milking. This milking parlor is from the DeLaval brand. To motivate goats to milk, grain is added to the milking parlor in the form of whole barley.

After milking, the milk is transferred to cooling tanks, from where it is pumped for processing to a farm dairy, where mainly French-type cheeses are produced. This dairy was built with the support of the European Union. Due to high hygiene rules, it was not possible to see the dairy physically. The process of milk processing in the dairy was performed in the form of a video, where it was possible to see the process of processing the milk produced. Subsequently, the cheeses produced were tasted. In addition to fresh cheese, we also tasted ripened cheeses that ripen for 30 days and cheeses flavored with spices and wine after 40 days of ripening.

The owner explained how she uses water resources on the farm. The goats are fed in the form of drinkers with drinking tap water. Utility (rain) water is used on the farm mainly for rinsing and cleaning in the milking parlor and stable and for irrigation of vineyards (drip irrigation), which line all the surroundings of the farm and dairy.

Quinta de Pregal (Livestock)

The last breeding visited was the QUINTA DE PREGAL farm, which deals with the breeding of Barroso beef cattle, kept in a clean line. The owner of this farm comes from an agricultural family. He studied agricultural school and after returning from studies in 2018, he decided to resume beef cattle breeding and meat production. This farmer farms only 10 hectares of land and despite this small volume of land is profitable.

The animals are found outside on the pasture all year round, where calves are also born. The feed base of the cattle is mainly pasture rich in herbs, followed by corn silage and hay grown only on their own land. Animal welfare is taken care of in breeding.

After fattening, the farmer has the young cuts slaughtered and sells the meat directly from the farm in 10 kg packages. Its customers are also more luxurious hotels.

When it comes to water and water management, surface water is used there. This water is cleaned of impurities with the help of plants and then led through a riverbed around the pasture. The water is of high quality despite the fact that it is surface. Cows go to drink in the riverbed, as it is the only available source of water for the herd. Despite the fact that it is surface water, thanks to these channels there is a continuous movement of water and thus the safety of water.

In Chrudimi, 19. 8. 2021

Work up: ing. Marie Janecká, PhD

The mobility in the Czech Republic of the European Project #Savingwater took place in several organizations and farms from Chrudim and Prague from the 7th until 13th of November. Participants from Portugal, Spain and Bulgaria shared their ideas and knowledge to learn about saving and keeping water in nature.

Training course "Saving and keeping water in nature"

According to the project program, the mobility started with a seminar on "Hydroponics in science and research at KARP". The topic was presented by Mr. Petr Zábranský (Czech University of Life Sciences, Department of Agroecology and Plant Production). The participants got to know that in early1860 the scientist Julius Von Sachs compiled the world's first recipe for a nutrient solution, after which it was possible to grow plants without soil substrate. Despite that and unfortunately hydroponics is a new way of producing many plants in agriculture in Czech as well as in Bulgaria, and especially rarely used in the field of growing ornamental plants . The lecture was very detailed and supported by lots of photos. It was very useful that the lecturer showed us what kind of equipment he used. We leart aboutt very useful some of the technics in growing plants for decorative vertical green walls, also with implementing methods of saving water which can be used in the participants´countries of this project. We learned about the new projects examining the distribution of the root system and the size of the leaf area and considered the current topic of the use of intermediate crops in field crops. The lecture finished with a practical visit to the greenhouses at the university, where we saw the hydroponic systems and discussed issues that arose during the presentation. The results of Petr Zábranský from the projects examining the distribution of the root system will be really useful for us in own future similar experiments.

In the lecture of Petr Harašta, there were introduced the different cases of run off and soil erosion in the Czech Republic. The processes also transfers plant nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus) and pesticides (PPPs). Entries of PPP can also be significantly reduced to acceptable levels with appropriate mitigation measures. Thanks to the lecture we confirmed and widen our usual list of measures other ones in the scope of land management of soil erosion for example: establish hedges and artificial wetlands/ponds, build bunds and terraces with retention structures; optimized irrigation and the size of the land blocks; changing crops; controlling patterns/ working across the slope, etc. For the mitigation of PPP with the water the following measures were discussed and these may have best implementation effect in our country: moving to organic farming of appr. ¼ of the cultivated or farm areas; better awareness when using fertilizers; different ways of controlling drifts like nozzles size, boom height and others; proper technical and spraying adjustment, maintenance and cleaning of machines, safety instructions when transporting PPP, etc. – all this is included in educational events for farmers twice a month in the Czech Republic. The legal framework for water protection in the EU includes surface, groundwater, and marine waters, as well as the regulation of plant products. During the seminar, the focus was placed on reducing the risks of pesticide use, education, and training of people who apply them. Other factors important factors presented were: volume and intensity of rainfalls, soil type and properties, landscape factors (eg. slopes), soil and crop management practices, and patterns of using the land. Priorities in erosion reduction measures are related to preventing the runoff of water surfaces, retaining them in the soil, etc. We got acquainted with the specific measures and their effectiveness.
The lecture was illustrated with many photos and figures, which made the information presented even more memorable and easy to understand. The measures point towards saving water in its quantity and in its quality.

The next seminar with the topic of "Water retention in the landscape", which was presented by ing. Jiří Janoš, was held in the High school of Agriculture in Chrudim. The school director was our kind host for few days.  Mr. Janoš introduced the audience to the country's reclamation system during the communist period - canals with concrete panels accelerating the water flow. This approach led to reducing groundwater levels and hindered plant access to life-giving water. Thus, the vegetation on the shores was extremely reduced. This led to disturbances in natural water resources and problems with drought or floods. These problems affect the crops and consequently people's lives. The good thing was that the lecture offered solutions that have begun to be implemented in the Czech Republic. They are a return to the natural and historical movement of water in winding riverbeds and menadras, which slow down the flow rate and increase infiltration. These problems were mitigated through government programs that focus on returning the natural beds of local rivers, more meanders, creation of small water ponds, and construction of rugged terrain - terracing, headlands with plants, ditches along the contour of the plots and roads. The revitalization takes averagely between 3-5 years and the process starts at first with planning and with a layout accomplished by specialists. The purpose of revitalization is to optimize river systems and thus to support the infiltration of water into the soil and to support raising the groundwater level. Fine and less permeable alluvial soil profiles have a high potential to retain water and slow its runoff from the landscape. Contrary to the beliefs of 50 years ago, the plots are now being divided into smaller ones and natural hedges and belts are left between them – with trees, grass, shrubs. One other way of keeping water in place is creating of beautiful artificial lakes and fitting into nature. An additional and big benefit of that of course is bringing the wild life back, because presence of water means life! The estimated cost of the projects exceeded 400,000,000 CZK (16,000,000 euros).

Firstly it was very pleasant and informative for us to see live the countryside of Czech and compare it in my mind with the rural areas for example in Bulgaria in the autumn. What we noticed was that water in Czech Republic is well kept due to cooperation between the Czech scientists, Czech government and EU. In Bulgaria due to climate changes and bad practice the fields with crops are drier most of the time and rarely very wet due to heavy rains or flooded, which of course is not good for the crop producers. I suppose it’s will be of a benefit to we follow the same way to increase water retention in our lands. The Czech rural landscape is nice and although it is maintained by humans it has its close to natural vision. There were only a little areas which were not covered with plants or crops. What we saw also was lots of rivers and lakes, approximately small arable lands with belts between them with different wild plants preserved. We were also happy to see deer and other wild birds and animals.