Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


Long term water management planning yields clear value for producers

Posted: January 30, 2013

Proactive process helps mitigate costs, environmental risks, Proactive Process

There's no doubt that access to a supply of quality water is key to the success of any agricultural operation. But, with Mother Nature at the helm, some years it's not so easy to come by.

Now, more than ever, farmers and ranchers are taking control of the resource by developing long term water management plans, geared towards identifying their usage needs through a water source inventory. The results will help producers preserve existing water sources and weather the challenges of drier years.

When it comes to water management planning, it's all about quantity and quality, says Joe Harrington, agriculture water specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

"Many agricultural producers do find themselves short of water or they find that they don't have the quality of water that their operation needs," Harrington says. "The idea is planning ahead and being proactive to ensure your operation has enough quality water for immediate needs and for future needs."

Click here to read the full story on the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan website.

Expect rural septic systems to be in the news more

Posted: January 30, 2013

Pressure is on to manage better

It is always amazing to consider how much work a farm septic system does. The numbers are daunting. Alberta Municipal Affairs estimates the average person produces 340 litres of wastewater that flows through a sewage treatment system every day.

A family in a three-bedroom house, using the basic code design calculation of 1.5 persons per bedroom, produces 1,530 litres per day or half a million litres per year.

Most landowners want to develop a system that's up to the job, says Joe Petryk, senior field inspector for Alberta Municipal Affairs.

A man who has dealt with septic issues for many years, Petryk has also been a major contributor to those sections of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) workbook that deal with this area of concern.

"We know that many municipalities across the province facing pressures to better manage water quality are dealing with issues such as grandfathering of older, substandard septic systems, or applying sewage sludge to agricultural lands," says AEFP program coordinator, Perry Phillips.

That all adds up to expecting septic systems to be in the news more frequently in the days ahead, says Phillips. Developing an EFP, an assessment of the environmental risks of a farm is an excellent way to establish a baseline in waste management. In fact household waste management ranks among the top five environmental challenges for producers who have completed an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP).

"I often hear folks say that their system has worked well for 20 years and wonder why they should start to be concerned now," says Phillips. "The fact is a septic system does have an effective lifespan and the level of care and monitoring needs to reflect that."

Click here to learn more about building an effective farm septic system, on the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan website.