Six crop commissions collaborate on wetland monitoring project

(Lara de Moissac/RealAgriculture)

A collaborative program between six major crop commissions will look at the role of wetlands and their ecosystem services, over three years.

“We’re very excited this year that we have a collaborative program to monitor Alberta’s wetlands,” says Nevin Rosaasen, policy and program specialist with Alberta Pulse Growers. “What we’re looking for is, first off, looking at the beneficial management practices, including vegetative filter strips and spray offsets. What this program is meant to do is evaluate the effectiveness of aquatic stewardship and riparian buffer zones that producers have in place.”

Ten Class 3, semi-permanent wetlands, as well as some tributaries, in the South Saskatchewan and Milk River watersheds will be sampled for nutrient and pesticide run-off, as well as level of habitat and biodiversity. Evaluating stewardship practices implemented by producers on their farms is the first objective, but another goal of the project is to monitor water bodies, to see if there are higher levels of pesticides.

Measurements will include the width of filter strips, recording species of grasses and forbs, and gathering information on spray offsets that are on-label from water samples.

InnoTech Alberta (formerly Alberta Innovates) will process all of the water samples, and Rosaasen says it’s been instrumental to have the Pest Management Regulatory Agency on board for the experiment’s design, to ensure that useful data is collected.

Use patterns of priority pesticides, including those that are up for re-evaluation, are also included in the research objectives, says Rosaasen. Extension materials are an expected outcome of the project to help producers better understand required practices and how they’re contributing to ecological health and function of a wetland.

The largest funding envelope for the project is from Results Driven Agriculture Research, with a value of $750,000 over the three years.

Catch the full interview below: