Controlling Agricultural Nutrients in Red Deer and Lacombe County Watersheds

Alberta Agriculture is actively investigating Best Management Practices that will reduce the quantities of N and P in run-off from land that can contaminate nutrient-sensitive surface water.

Between 2007 and 2012, 4700 hectares in Lacombe County were an experimental area for the Whelp Creek watershed project.

The objectives of that project were to:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of individual nutrient BMPs in reducing agricultural impacts on the environment at the farm scale.
  • Assess the impacts of selected BMPs on the water quality in specific reaches of the stream in the watershed.
  • Predict the cumulative impacts of selected BMPs on the overall quality of the watershed stream using models.
  • Evaluate nutrient management BMPs for effective use of manure in crop production.
  • Assess economic costs and benefits associated with individual BMPs implemented in this study.
  • Investigate the ability to determine the source of nutrient loss to the environment, i.e., manure or fertilizer.

The Red Deer Advocate reported in 2011:

…..that Lacombe County Reeve Ken Wigmore fully supports what the researchers are trying to do. “There’s a lot of value in finding out what nutrients are running off the land.”

A second Alberta Agriculture multi-year project has started on 14,073 hectares in Red Deer County’s the Tindastoll Creek watershed area.

The objectives of this new project are:

  • To develop and evaluate the Alberta Phosphorus Management Tool
  • To implement as many BMPs as possible in two agricultural watersheds using the risk-based Alberta Phosphorus Management Tool
  • To evaluate the cumulative effects of implemented BMPs on reducing phosphorus losses from two agricultural watersheds

Results from both projects are important for Sylvan Lake as previous work by the SLWSS in partnership with Alberta Environment (now ESRD) showed that about 1000 kg per year of Total Phosphorus nutrient enters the lake in runoff. The lake is close to the TP concentration at which chronic algal blooms become more likely.

Red Deer County is working closely with its farmers and ranchers to apply those best nutrient containment practices . Click on that link to learn more.

The Red Deer County website states:

Red Deer County assists producers in all aspects of Environmental Farm Planning, from start to finish and through to action. We also assist producers in keeping their Environmental Farm Plans current.

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