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The Top Key Water Monitoring Indicators  

Get insights on the time and amount of water needed for livestock and working lands so you can assess your infrastructure capacity.
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There are two water monitoring indicators that can address the timing and amount of water for livestock or other animal species on your farm, according to the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable.  

Intermittent or ephemeral sources or no water may limit use in some areas. Vegetation management has been shown to impact stream and spring flows. Drought also is a large influence.  

Your management objectives would be improvements in timing and amounts of water from various sources.  

The key indicators to watch are:  

Frequency or duration of surface water (TIME) – The first water indicator addresses the volume of water available, and the length of time that this water is present in the case of ephemeral water features. If the availability of ephemeral water begins to decrease on an annual basis, you should determine the cause of this decline.  

Volume of water available (AMOUNT) – This indicator can be quantified by answering some basic questions: 

  1. What and how many reliable sources of water do you have (sumps, surface flows and ground water)?  
  1. Do you have adequate water supply or reserves year-round or during periods of use? 
  1. Do you have adequate depth in existing stock ponds and tanks? 
  1. Do you have adequate storage or flow from a well to supply the water needed? 
  1. Do you have enough water to allow adequate grazing distribution?  

There are many different ways to get water to your herd. Here are some resources that can help, depending on your situation:

For more information about ranch sustainability, check out this resource from the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable.  


Tailored Advice From Experts

Would you like more information on Trust in Beef topics from the experts?

Additional Resources

Watch NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winner profiles. See how the beef industry showcases its stewardship, conservation and business practices that work together on farms and ranches.

Blair Brothers Angus Ranch – South Dakota

Gracie Creek – Nebraska

Beatty Canyon Ranch – Colorado

JY Ferry & Son, Inc. – Utah

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