Actions for Farms

Nutrients and Soil

Nutrients from commercial fertilizer or manure are important inputs for crop production, but when certain nutrients, particularly phosphorus, enter surface water, they stimulate the growth of algae and aquatic plants. 

  • Employ erosion control practices where erosion is a problem (e.g. conservation tillage or perennial forage on sloping land).

  • Follow the recommendations in the Manitoba Soil Fertility Guide to maximize agronomic efficiency and minimize the risk of nutrient losses to surface water and groundwater. 

  • Carry out nutrient management planning on an annual basis.

  • Ensure compliance with Municipal and Provincial Regulations (e.g. the Provincial Livestock Manure and Mortalities and Nutrient Management Regulations).

  • Ensure buffer steps are created and protected around all waters including next to ditches and drainage areas.

Fertilizer

Participate in the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program Right Source at the Right Rate, Right Timing, Right Place: 

  • Right Source: Select the correct source of nutrient for your soil ensuring a balanced supply of essential plant nutrients including granular or liquid fertilizers or manures is used.

  • Right Rate: Consider the availability of nutrients from all sources (e.g. livestock manures, commercial fertilizers and atmospheric nitrogen fixed by legumes).

    • Perform annual soil testing.

    • Apply nutrients to meet crop requirements while accounting for the nutrients already in the soil.

    • Calibrate application equipment to deliver target rates.

    • Include crops in the rotation that uptake nutrients. 

  • Right Timing: Apply fertilizer at the right time so nutrients will be available when crop demand is high.

    • Do not apply fertilizer or manure on snow or frozen soils.

  • Right Place: Apply or maintain fertilizer where the crop can access the nutrients most efficiently.​

    • Respect recommended setback distances for nutrient application near waterways.

Drainage and Irrigation

Drainage water can carry nutrients, pesticides or pathogens to surface water. 

  • Follow all regulations for drainage and participate in watershed planning with your local conservation district and municipal government. 

  • Explore opportunities to store and re-use runoff and drainage water on the farm

    • e.g. conserved and restored wetlands, small dams and reservoirs, back floods, collection basins, or dugouts. 

  • For irrigated crops, avoid build up of surplus water in the soil due to inaccurate or excessive irrigation. 

  • Consider crops that grow well in local conditions 

    • ​e.g., grow crops that use large amounts of water in wet regions and drought-tolerant crops in dry areas. 

Landscape Management of Natural Lands

Water bodies and natural areas are valuable parts of Manitoba’s agricultural landscape. These areas include wetlands and riparian areas, woodlands and native prairie grasslands.

 

These areas often provide valuable agricultural resources such as water and forage. They help to clean and filter water, provide much of the food, protective and thermal cover and water resources that are necessary for fish and wildlife to flourish. In addition, they are important for plant and animal diversity. 

  • Convert natural lands and marginal or sensitive land from annual crops to permanent cover, especially if the area is affecting water quality or is costing you money to maintain production. 

  • Before draining a wetland, consider the impact on the natural environment. 

  • Provide off stream watering for livestock.

Livestock

Good management of pasture, manure and livestock facilities will result in both economic and environmentally positive outcomes. Pasture management is important not only for forage and livestock production but also for maintaining healthy ecosystems. Understanding and recognizing the impact of livestock grazing on ecosystem properties is key to maintaining productive pastures.

 

Applying manure, either fresh or composted, to agricultural land can be a sustainable way for livestock producers to recycle nutrients on the farm. However, manure is typically an unbalanced fertilizer, in that nutrients are rarely present in ratios that enable application rates to closely match crop requirements for more than one nutrient. Improper management of manure may lead to soil, water and/or air pollution. 

  • Pasture Management: 

    • Use proper stocking rates. 

    • Provide rest periods that are adequate to allow plant recovery from grazing, drought or other disturbances. 

    • Conserve native grassland, forested land and wetlands. 

    • Understand the nutrient requirements of a pasture, and ensure nutrient applications match, but do not exceed the needs of plants and livestock. 

    • Distribute grazing activity evenly. 

  • Manure application: 

    • Ensure there is enough productive land base to receive manure annually. 

    • Select fields and manage crops and manure to ensure that rates of nutrient application match rates of nutrient removal over the long term. 

  • Livestock Facilities: 

    • Ensure you have a proper system to collect and store groundwater and recharge areas for contaminated runoff from the yard. 

    • Check the location of livestock yards and ensure there is sufficient distance from nearby wells, springs, sinkholes and surface water. 

    • Regularly remove/clean manure from confined livestock areas. 

    • Regularly rotate areas used for in-field overwintering system such as bale-grazing.

Storage and Handling

On farm storage and handling of farm inputs, including fertilizer, fuel and pesticides, is necessary but can pose an environmental hazard if not done properly. Any one of these products can move quickly through the soil and into groundwater or runoff into dugouts and streams.

 

Proper farm management includes ensuring that all farm inputs are stored safely to ensure that no spills or leaks occur that would result in the contamination of surrounding soil 

and water. 

  • Manure: 

    • Inspect your manure storage structure regularly. 

    • Check for signs of wear, damage and leakage in all parts of the structure. 

    • Choose field storage locations that have low risk of runoff or leaching from the piles. 

    • Prepare an emergency plan to deal with a spill. 

  • Petroleum: 

    • Make sure storage tanks are installed properly and protected from corrosion. 

    • Monitor and inspect storage tanks regularly. 

  • Pesticides and commercial fertilizer:

    • Handle pesticides and fertilizer carefully, especially during mixing and loading.

    • Rinse and recycle empty pesticide containers.

    • Ensure that the transportation of commercial fertilizer and pesticide is done in a safe way to avoid an accident and spillage. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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