The Water Security Agency (WSA) with the support of Natural Resources Canada are offering free online workshops called AgH2Onward to introduce farmers and ranchers to the Agricultural Water Management program in Saskatchewan.
This includes the process and benefits of drainage approvals and innovative techniques to best manage water on their land.
“There is a need for producers to learn more about ag water management strategy, to learn more about what we are going to be faced with in the future, and how things are changing with our climate,” AgH2Oward Coordinator Julie Mackenzie said. “Water management can definitely help producers with that. It really fits well with ag water management strategy, which essentially are the drainage regulations in Saskatchewan.”
The free workshops are being offered until April 2022 and include two half-day sessions.
Mackenzie said agricultural water management is an entire set of practices including drainage, which includes field drainage and drainage off agriculture lands.
“It’s a practice that’s widespread across Saskatchewan and it’s one of the practices that can help us in adapting to the range of variability we are going to see in the future,” she explained. “Also, there are lots of practices within drainage that can help in other (areas) that compliment retaining wetlands in different places.”
One of these practices includes irrigation as part of a drainage system.
“Irrigation is one of those things that can fit really well into a drainage system, so holding water in certain places and using it, moving the water to the place you want it, and then also to controlling flows within agriculture land and controlling water flows off of agriculture land too,” Mackenzie said. “There are a lot of moving parts.”
Drainage is a divisive issue in some ways according to Mackenzie. However, she said can be an innovative way for producers to deal with weather extremes like droughts and floods.
“Drainage can be a tense topic there is no doubt about it, but realizing the Water Security Agency is there to help and their partners are there to help too—and realizing that some of these ag drainage projects strengthen farms and strengthen farm operations—can be good for communities too,” she said.
Being able to manage water effectively has made significant contributions to our province, she added, making it an important economic tool for farmers and ranchers the organization said in a release.
Today, the agricultural community faces the added challenge of adapting to a changing climate. WSA believes there are important opportunities to respond to that challenge – helping producers plan agricultural drainage projects that are adapted and resilient to weather extremes, such as floods and droughts, while increasing productivity.
“I think part of it to is that drainage approvals really do provide security for producers, they reduce risk and it does protect downstream neighbours from negative impacts so that’s the benefits of drainage approval and so this is the tools that farmers can start to figure out how to get themselves set up for drainage approval. This is the way to help them,” Mackenzie said.
Producers can learn more and register at the website agh2onward.ca.