LANGHAM, SK -Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm (Langham) and the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency through its Agricultural Water Management Strategy have launched a two-year study to assess the economic and environmental considerations in draining agricultural land with an eye to maximizing agricultural productivity and reducing nutrient export in runoff water.
“The goal is to design a drainage plan that meets regulatory requirements and optimizes land productivity while preserving ecological services,” said Blake Weiseth, Applied Research Lead at Discovery Farm. “After construction, a field study will evaluate several management practices that are meant to reduce nutrient losses in runoff water. This will be a demonstration project that will help producers reclaim low-lying areas that are marginally productive due to periodic flooding.”“
We are very pleased to partner with Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm on their project,” Water Security Agency Executive Director of Special Projects Doug Johnson said. “This represents a timely opportunity for us to work with the many experts at Discovery Farm to test and approve innovative agricultural drainage works as well as support research with different land management practices to reduce runoff. The lessons we learn will positively impact the farming and environmental communities, and entire regions.”
Additional support for the study is being provided by the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association and the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association. Collaborating on the project are Dr. Jeff Schoenau, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chair in Soil Nutrient Management at the University of Saskatchewan, and Dr. Jane Elliott, Research Scientist at the National Hydrology Research Centre.
Weiseth said year one of the project will involve construction, in consultation with regulatory authorities, of drainage works on about 40 acres at Discovery Farm, located just west of Saskatoon. The construction will consolidate several small wetlands of varying classes into a larger, more permanent wetland. “This is a unique opportunity to collect background soil chemical and physical characteristics prior to construction so we can truly evaluate the impact of drainage and management practices on wetland soils.”
The field study will begin in spring 2021 to evaluate a number of management practices, said Weiseth. Proposed treatments include a poly-cropping treatment with a species mix including legumes to reduce nutrient losses through reduced fertilizer input; a variable-rate fertility prescription tailored to drained depressions to be applied at seeding; and a study of whether a residue management practice like harrowing will reduce nutrient losses by reducing interaction of snowmelt runoff water and surface crop residue. There will also be a control treatment using standard farming practices for comparison purposes.
“The entire two-year study is designed to give producers the opportunity to see what it takes to get regulatory approval for a drainage works, what obstacles might get in the way and how their management practices can improve the economics and environmental conditions of soils prone to flooding,” Weiseth said.
Learn more about water management practices, including riparian areas, irrigation and salinity at Ag in Motion Discovery Plus July 21 to 25.
For more information contact:
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NOTE: A complete media kit with photos, videos and recording of the press conference is available upon request.
ABOUT DISCOVERY FARM
GlacierFarmMedia Discovery Farm is an innovative agricultural event and demonstration site, home to Ag in Motion and Field of Excellence. Located on 640 acres at Langham, SK, Discovery Farm is designed to connect western Canadian farmers with industry and research partners to find practical solutions to the agriculture challenges of today, and tomorrow.
ABOUT Water Security Agency of Saskatchewan
The Water Security Agency is a unique organization in Canada -bringing together the majority of government’s core water management responsibilities in one place. We manage the province’s water supply, protect water quality, ensure safe drinking water and treatment of wastewater, own and manage 72 dams and related water supply channels, reduce flood and drought damage, protect aquatic habitat and provide information about water. The Water Security Agency also represents Saskatchewan on transboundary water issues.
ABOUT Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association
The Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SSCA) is a non-profit producer-based organization whose mission is: “to promote conservation agriculture systems that improve the land and environment for future generations.”
ABOUT Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association
SSGA is a province-wide member driven advocacy organization representing independent self-reliant cattle producers’ interests for 107 years. The SSGA advocates through education, communication, and research for an economically and environmentally sustainable cattle industry where cattlemen are free to do business–within a free and open market place, free from industry limiting laws and regulation.