How do I test my water?

 Min read
November 21, 2022

Farmer Rick knows the quality of the water on his farm isn’t very good. The water pressure keeps getting worse and he’s noticing that some of the equipment along his irrigation lines keep getting clogged. Along with that, Rick fears that there may be a contaminant in his water as his livestock keep getting sick. Fortunately, there are a number of different tests available for finding out what’s in water. Today, we’ll take the time to talk about why you want to test your farm’s water as well as the different testing options available. We’ll also look at what you can do if you find out there is a contaminant in your water and how Vu-Flow can help you out.

There are a number of different methods available when it comes to testing water quality. Some of these methods are laid out by ETR Laboratories, the first of which is test strips. This is one of the options that a farmer, such as Rick, can purchase for testing on their own. Test strips change colors depending on the type of chemicals that are detected in the water. Once the strip changes color, a chart can be viewed to help show the concentration of a chemical. These tests are used in a lot of cases to determine the pH or the amount of chlorine in water.

A color disk kit is another option available for testing water quality. In using this test, a farmer can obtain a sample of water in a plastic tube. Powder or a few drops of liquid reagent are then added into the tube and the water ends up changing color depending on the elements in there. A color gradient disk that provides a closer reading of the concentration of the chemical is then used to compare to the water sample.

Yet another option to test a farm’s water quality involves handheld digital instruments. These are more costly than either the test strips or the color disk kits, but they do provide more accurate results. Most of the time you’ll want a professional to handle these instruments as they take proper training as well as calibration to get accurate results. There are several options within this category, including luminescence testing devices. These can provide quick screening of bacteria in the water. There are also electrochemical testers, which help determine the pH, dissolved solids and salt, dissolved oxygen, and electrical conductivity of water.

The most thorough way to get an analysis of your farm’s water is to send a sample to a professional testing lab. A lot of test options are available to pick from here, including a standard scan to see how the water compares to EPA standards. More comprehensive and health scans are available too. These are helpful for determining whether or not additional filtration is needed for water that gets consumed.

Once you’ve conducted a test of your farm’s water, you may end up finding out there are a number of problems in there. One such problem may be the presence of sediment or contaminants. In some cases, these can be two totally different issues, however, that is not always the case.

Many contaminants adhere to sediment rather than readily dissolving in water according to Once they are retained, these chemicals can remain in sediment for years. They can even still be in there long after they are no longer detectable in water. Some of the chemicals of concern here are referred to as hydrophobic. These include a number of legacy contaminants such as DDT, PCBs and Chlordane, which were banned decades ago. To this day, however, they can still be found in lake and stream bed sediment. There are other hydrophobic contaminants being released into the environment as well these days, including the pesticide bifenthrin, flame retardant chemicals, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A number of metals, such as lead, zinc and cadmium, are also concentrated in sediment instead of water.

As was mentioned earlier, Farmer Rick has noticed that his livestock are getting sick and his thinking is that water contamination could be the cause. An article on points out how important clean water is for livestock. The author points out that many substances originate on livestock farms that often contaminate water supplies. These include nitrates, bacteria, organic materials, as well as suspended solids. A high level of these suspended solids can actually help contribute to animals drinking less than they should and this alone could cause them to get sick.

Water can end up being a reservoir for many different disease organisms and toxins. As an example, water can get contaminated with certain nutrients and result in blue-green algae. This can lead to livestock poisoning that causes muscle tremors, liver damage and in some of the worst cases, even death.

If it turns out that contaminants are present in your farm’s water supply, it’s important to take it very seriously. The good news is a Vu-Flow Screen Filter or Sand Separator can help you get rid of it! Vu-Flow offers filters in four different sizes as far as the inlet and outlet goes. There is a ¾", 1”, 1-½" and 2” size depending on what your farm’s water system requires. A number of different mesh sizes are also available depending on the type of sediment you’re dealing with, including coarse options, as well as really fine ones. More recently, Vu-Flow introduced a few new filter options, including melt blown, pleated and activated carbon screens. An activated carbon filter specifically is good for removing chemicals from water. Regardless of what you’re trying to remove from your farm’s water to protect the health of both your livestock and overall system, a Vu-flow filter can do an incredible job helping to clean it up.

If you suspect that the water on your farm is contaminated like Farmer Rick’s, take the time to get your water tested, whether it be with a store-bought kit or by a professional. If you do find problems in your water, give Vu-Flow a call at 1-800-833-5171. A customer service representative can help you figure out the best filter for your specific situation and also recommend a distributor for purchasing.

Source Notes: All information in this article relating to different water testing methods came from ETR Laboratories. Information regarding the type of contaminants present in sediment came from Information relating to the health effects of water contamination on livestock came from