RRCA Offering Free Workshop on Benefits of Buffers, Windbreaks & Wetlands for Farmers

August 3, 2021

Buffer zones on the edges of farm fields can be beneficial for both farmland sustainability and watershed health.

Farmers in the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA)’s watershed jurisdiction in eastern Ontario are invited to attend a free “lunch and learn” virtual workshop about agricultural best management practices (BMPs) on Wednesday, August 11, from 12 to 1:30 PM. The event will provide participants with an accessible introduction to the methods and advantages of incorporating green infrastructure on their farm.

“Green infrastructure BMPs can provide a variety of benefits to farms,” says Brendan Jacobs, the RRCA’s Stewardship Specialist. “Buffers and windbreaks, which are areas of permanent vegetation on the edges of farm fields or water courses, can reduce wind and water erosion, stabilize stream banks, slow runoff, and enhance infiltration, while constructed wetlands and ponds can harness the natural functions of vegetation, soil and other organisms to improve water quality, store nutrients, and reduce erosion of stream banks.”

While these practices can offer economic advantages, such as nutrient retention and increased average yield, Jacobs says that green infrastructure BMPs also contribute to the health of the local watershed and surrounding environment. “Buffers zones and wetlands can reduce and trap sediments, pesticides, pathogens and heavy metals and provide a source of both food and cover for wildlife,” he says, adding that “windbreaks also help to reduce habitat fragmentation by providing connecting corridors that allow wildlife to safely move from one habitat to another.”

Presenters for the workshop include University of Ottawa Department of Civil Engineering professor, Dr. Chris Kinsley, who will speak about wetlands and settling ponds, Forests Ontario’s Forestry Operations Coordinator, Haylee Murray, presenting on buffers and windbreaks, and the RRCA’s Brendan Jacobs, also the Ontario East Coordinator for ALUS CANADA, who will provide an introduction to the ALUS program, a community developed, farmer-delivered program working with farmers to produce valuable ecological services on Canadian farmland. Participants will be able to interact virtually with the presenters through a dedicated Q and A session during the event.    

This workshop is the second in a three-part series which, Jacobs says, “is a chance for participants to interact virtually with experts and consultants who work in their region, to be introduced to some of the BMPs which could benefit their own farms, and to discover concrete steps to get these projects implemented.” Those interested in attending can register for free at rrca.on.ca/BMP.

“For those wanting to take action towards BMP implementation, the Agri-Action Workshop Series pairs well with the RRCA’s Agri-Action Advisory Service, where farmers can receive funding for individual, on-site advisory services from a list of local BMP implementation experts” adds Jacob, who says the RRCA has extended the application period for the service to August 16, 2021. Application forms are available online at rrca.on.ca/BMP. 

The RRCA’s Agri-Action Workshop Series is supported by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and by ALUS Canada, a community developed, farmer-led program that works with farmers to produce valuable ecological services on Canadian farmland. 

For more information, please visit rrca.on.ca/BMP or contact (613) 938-3611 or info@rrca.on.ca.