Watershed Evaluation of BMPs

This program ended on March 31, 2013.  The information provided is for consultation purposes only.

The Watershed Evaluation of BMPs (WEBs) was a national project led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), largely funded through Greencover Canada program and Ducks Unlimited Canada. Manitoba Agriculture's primary role was to provide technical support to the WEBs steering committee, as well as financial support through the Agricultural Sustainability Initiative program (formerly Covering New Ground). Other key partners included Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Manitoba Water Stewardship, the University of Manitoba, and the Deerwood Soil and Water Management Association.

The WEBs project conducted studies at seven sites across Canada where the long-term history of conditions and trends are already generally well understood in the watershed. In Manitoba, the study took place in the Steppler Watershed, a sub-watershed of the South Tobacco Creek (STC) Watershed located west of Miami, Manitoba, approximately 210 hectares in size.

The objective of the WEBs project was to quantify, on a watershed scale, the relative environmental and economic performance of selected beneficial management practices (BMPs).  The seven micro-watershed sites across Canada utilized a range of BMP-style management practices, required to mitigate conditions such as erosion, runoff, and sedimentation into watercourses. This evaluation centered on such practices as:

  • land conversion (annual crop to grassland),
  • riparian buffer strip enhancement,
  • managed livestock access to water, and
  • nutrient management.

The six BMPs that were evaluated in the Steppler Watershed include:

  • zero tillage practices compared to conventional (minimum) tillage practices;
  • a holding pond to capture runoff from a cattle containment area;
  • conversion of annual cropped land to forage;
  • development or enhancement of riparian area along water courses;
  • use of small reservoirs to reduce downstream nutrient runoff; and
  • winter bale grazing.

As well as assessing the environmental performance of these six BMPs (both individually and collectively), the WEBs project in Manitoba also strived to:

  • conduct hydrologic modelling to characterize water quality benefits of BMPs within the STC watershed;
  • establish representative farms and conduct a farm-level economic analysis;
  • develop a biophysical-economic model to evaluate the economic and environmental impacts of production and management practices;
  • develop a farm behaviour model to simulate the extent of BMP adoption and to quantify related economic implication within STC; and
  • develop a prototype integrated modelling system to examine the economic and environmental tradeoffs of BMPs within STC.