Farmers and ranchers in Saskatchewan are working together to find new and effective ways to manage water on their land that will strengthen their operations and protect communities, infrastructure and the environment.
Today, Minister Responsible for Water Security Agency Greg Ottenbreit announced Water Security Agency (WSA) is investing $1 million to partner with 10 stakeholder organizations on 11 agricultural water management demonstration projects. This will allow the agricultural and environmental communities to test innovative solutions and inform best practices to help farmers and ranchers manage water on their land and mitigate water quality and quantity impacts downstream.
Each organization brings a different perspective on water management and will help contribute agronomic, environmental, infrastructure and economic expertise.
“Agricultural water management is extremely important to our economy and the environment, but every region of our province is different,” Ottenbreit said. “We need to listen and learn from, and work with farmers and ranchers on the landscape. These projects will allow stakeholders, WSA and local leaders to better understand how we can solve complex water management issues.”
“Water management is important to all of rural Saskatchewan as our economy and viability of rural communities depend on it,” Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities President Ray Orb said. “We are pleased to see this investment as Water Security Agency works with local leaders on options and examples of how projects can be supported by all stakeholders.”
The participating organizations receiving funding include:
• Saskatchewan Conservation and Development Association;
• Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm (Langham);
• Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds;
• Saskatchewan Irrigation Projects Association;
• Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation;
• Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association;
• Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association;
• Saskatchewan Research Council;
• Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute; and
• Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association.
“We have been working to advance agricultural water management projects for a number of years and it is great to see the government will be working with local leaders to find solutions to many of our members issues,” Saskatchewan Conservation and Development Association Chair Miles Wendell said. “A lot of these projects take time and are very complex, so it’s good to see Water Security Agency taking this approach to demonstrate what works and what might need a different approach.”
“The majority of our members are from rural Saskatchewan and water management is important to wildlife across the province,” Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation Executive Director Darryl Crabbe said. “We are excited to partner with the Water Security Agency and other stakeholders to find solutions that work for wildlife and Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers.”
Some of the demonstration projects will test how farmers and ranchers can irrigate with water drained from agricultural fields. Other projects will strategically retain wetlands to reduce the downstream impacts of flooding on infrastructure, water quality and habitat. Others will look at applying fertilizer in different ways in order to minimize nutrient runoff.
The Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm (Langham), northwest of Saskatoon, will host one of the projects. It will be the site of a multi-year study that will involve design, regulatory approval, and construction of a drainage system on approximately 40 acres of land. After construction, a field study will evaluate several management practices meant to reduce nutrient runoff.
“The goal is to design a drainage plan that meets regulatory requirements and optimizes land productivity while preserving the environment,” Applied Research Lead at Discovery Farm Blake Weiseth said. “This demonstration will help producers reclaim marginally productive low-lying areas while incorporating key nutrient management features associated with wetlands.”
An extension event will be planned during construction for interested farmers and ranchers to observe the process. Glacier FarmMedia 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, Saskatchewan.
For more information on the Agricultural Water Management Strategy visit www.wsask.ca.