Over the years, the West Interlake Watershed District (WIWD) has worked with local producers to complete projects throughout the district to enhance and restore valued land. As the soil health crop program is gaining popularity, producers are becoming more and more interested in soil health, with many of them doing their own research and trials. In the 2021 year, the WIWD worked with 18 producers to establish 3,052 acres of soil health crops funded through the Conservation Trust, and 6 producers who established 1,232 acres of soil health crops funded though the GROW trust, totaling 4,284 acres. In 2020, the WIWD enhanced 2022 acres through the Cover Crop program funded by the Conservation Trust. The WIWD signed 1 ten year contract with a producer to erect 2.4 kilometers of cross fencing to implement rotaional grazing, and 3 ten year contracts with producers to install 3 alternative watering systems to enhance the land by implementing grazing practices. Currently, the LGC has reviewed and approved 8 applications to establish 740 acres of soil health crops, and 3 applications to establish 242 acres are pending review. To date, the LGC has reviewed and approved 12 applications where 12 alternative watering systems and 8 kilometers of exclusion fencing are expected to be completed.
A total of 457 acres of riparian area were enhanced though approximately 21 kilometers of exclusion fencing along the Hatchery Drain, Buffalo Lake, Burnt Lake and small water sources previously used for livestock drinking water supply. 25 alternative watering systems were installed to allow cattle access to clean drinking water. Three of them were funded by the Manitoba Ag Action program.
Between 2020 and 2022, 2,065.36 acres of sensitive land were restored through the establishment of perennial forages. The LGC has currently reviewed and approved and additional 5 applications to establish 322 acres of perennial forage.
It's thanks to GRowing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW) and the Conservation Trust that the watershed has been able to support these projects. Listed below are the programs we offer provided with funding from GROW :
Wetland Conservation, Enhancement or Restoration
The purpose of the Wetland Activity is to conserve, enhance and/or restore wetlands to provide ecological goods and services that include: enhanced water; reduced peak flows, which can moderate the timing and volume or runoff and reduce negative impact downstream; improve water quality; protection to aquafers and enhancement or recharge; improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity; increased carbon sequestration.
Riparian Area Management
The purpose of Riparian Area Management is to conserve, enhance and/or restore riparian areas to provide; improvements to surface water quality; water storage and flow reducations that reduce downstream flooding during high water events; greater landscape resiliency; carbon storage and sequestration; shoreline stabilization and erosion control; wildlife habitat and continuity and greater biodiversity.
Buffer Establishment- Sherlterbelts, Multispecies Buffer Strips
The purpose of the Buffer Establishment Activity is to establish, enhance and/or restore shelterbelts or buffers that provide; reduced soil erosion; improved water conservation efforts; improved wildlife and pollinator habitat; inscreased crop yeilds; insceased carbon sequestration; thermal protection for livestock; reducedsurface runoff and enhanced water quality; stabilized stream banks.
Eco-buffers are made up of mulitple rows using a variety of native trees and shrubs in a mixed planting arrangement. Unlike most traditional single or limited species shelterbelts, there is much higher variety of woody plants in an eco-buffer. The plants are predominantly native trees and shrubs chosen from the local Eco zone.
Upland Area Conservation, Enhancement or Restoration
Activities that pertain to the management of natural upland areas that may be vulnerable to conversion to other land uses, such as cropping or development. Upland area conservation, enhancement, and/or restoration supports the health or natural areas to; improve the ecological function of natural and managed upland areas; promote wildlife and pollinator habitat, and biodiversity; inscrease carbon sequestration and soil health; reduce soil erosion.
Producers participating in Poly-crops through the GROW Program may have their enrolled feilds tested twice in the first year and once in the following years. The soil samples for the Haney and PFLA tests determine the benefits of Soil Health Crops while the PFLA also determines the microbiology or the soil. The Haney test determines which nutrients are present in the soil.