This innovative system
practices that are good
for clean water.
Innovative Watering Station is
a Game Changer
Buddy Wilkins raises about 100 sheep,
and occasionally cattle, on 65 acres in
Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. He’s already
doing his part to protect clean water,
several years ago planting trees and
fencing off a stream from livestock.
But after installing the fence, he couldn’t
graze livestock in parts of a pasture
across the stream because of limited
drinking water for the animals. It would
have been very difficult to pump more
water there, requiring running electricity
and water lines through rocky soil and
across the stream. So, Wilkins, who
also has decades of experience as an
engineer, looked to solar power.
Wilkins is one of two Virginia farmers
who this year tried out an inventive
solar livestock watering station that CBF
designed and built. The mobile system
uses the sun’s energy to pump water
from a spring-fed pond on Wilkins’
property to tanks that fill a trough in
the pasture. By making drinking water
easily available, this imaginative system
complements farm practices that are
good for clean water, like rotational
grazing and stream fencing. “There are
places where you don’t have any access
to electricity, and there are really no
good alternatives if you’re going to fence
livestock out of streams,” Wilkins said.
Mounted on a trailer, the mobile
watering system can be moved from
field to field or farm to farm—a benefit
for farmers who lease land or hope
to graze animals in new areas. “The
mobile watering station can be a real
game changer,” said CBF Watershed
Restoration Scientist Matt Kowalski.
“It’s an affordable, portable, off-the-grid
solution for getting water to livestock.
Plus, keeping livestock out of ponds and
streams is good for local waterways.”
CBF has been working with Virginia
Cooperative Extension to promote
solar options. While Wilkins had been
considering a solar powered watering
system for a while, the CBF unit finally
gave him confidence that this is a
dependable solution. “It was a proof of
concept,” he said.
Though he’s returning the CBF unit so a
new farmer can give it a trial run, Wilkins
is now building his own solar watering
system. For him, the advantages go well
beyond the environment.
Virginia Gears Up for
Farmers across Virginia this year
continued to install conservation
practices thanks to state support
for Virginia’s agricultural cost-share
program. The program helps pay for
measures that reduce pollution to local
waters, including fencing livestock
out of streams and planting buffers of
CBF is now preparing for Virginia’s
2019 General Assembly session, which
begins on January 9. CBF will again be
urging strong state investment in these
farm conservation practices, as well
as the Stormwater Local Assistance
Fund, which provides matching grants
to localities for projects that reduce
At the same time, CBF will oppose bills
that could harm clean water and support
proposals that help restore waterways,
including potential legislation to increase
trees in cities. Stay tuned: We’ll be giving
updates on ways to make your voice
heard this session.
U To watch the solar mobile watering
system in action, visit cbf.org/solarstation.
U To learn more about what is happening
in Virginia, visit cbf.org/Virginia.
Cattle on a Shenandoah Valley farm drink from CBF’s innovative mobile watering system,
which complements many practices that restore local streams.
SAVE THE BAY 25