Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

July 06, 2005 13:53 ET

AAFC: National Ag Study-Evaluating Best Land Practices For Water Quality

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 6, 2005) - A four-year, $5.65 million project led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to study the impact of various beneficial land management practices (BMPs) on water quality is now under way at seven small-scale watershed sites across Canada. BMPs are farming activities designed to help minimize potential environmental impacts, such as sediment or nutrient runoff into water bodies.

"This is a fine example of AAFC's continuing commitment to environmental stewardship. We know that BMPs are scientifically-based methods of good land management, but until now we've been testing them for effectiveness on plots and fields only," said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Andy Mitchell. "Now we will be testing these practices in small watersheds with a view to applying the findings to larger watersheds."

Dubbed WEBs , an acronym for 'Watershed Evaluation of BMPs', the project will measure the effects of selected BMPs on water quality at regional benchmark sites in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), a key partner in the project, is contributing $1.25 million to the study; AAFC will fund the remainder through its Greencover Canada Program. Other government and non-government agencies are also participating in the project, which runs until 2008.

The WEBs project sites are defined as micro watersheds, being approximately 300 hectares in size. Their diverse locations were chosen because the long-term history of conditions and trends for each site is well understood, making it easier to determine baseline information for the study. The range of BMPs to be tested at each site includes such things as: land conversion (converting annual crop land to grassland); riparian buffer strip enhancement; management of livestock access to water; and nutrient management.

The watersheds being studied under the WEBs project include:

- Salmon River - British Colombia interior
- Lower Little Bow - southern Alberta
- South Tobacco Creek - southern Manitoba
- South Nation (Little Castor) - near Ottawa, Ontario
- Bras d'Henri and Fourchette - near Quebec City, Quebec
- Black Brook - north-western New Brunswick
- Thomas Brook -Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

"It is our hope that the WEBs project will turn into a long-term monitoring and evaluation program that will provide a framework for continuous improvement of BMPs," said Brian Gray, DUC's director of conservation programs. "This foundation of science will help position Canada's farmers as world leaders in environmentally responsible agriculture."

At each of its seven study sites, the WEBs project will collect information on existing farming practices, such as measuring nutrient balances and tracking the costs of BMP application. This information will help determine the economic impact of BMPs on farming in each project area, as well as the general benefits and costs to society.

WEBs can be found on the Internet at

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, ON
    Media Relations
    (613) 759-7972 or 1 (866) 345-7972
    Minister's Office, Ottawa
    Elizabeth Whiting
    (613) 759-1059
    AAFC-PFRA , Regina, SK
    Brook Harker
    (306) 780-5071