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Alberta SMRID BRENT PATERSON OLD MAN SCIENCE TOUR

5 STORIES ALL ABOUT CORN volume eighteen • number one spring 2014 • price $3.50 IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 1


The Eaton Irrigation Pump Control Panel (CIP) is the ultimate solution for all irrigation equipment motor control. Designed and built to suit individual customer needs, the CIP is enclosed in a heavy-gauge, weatherproof enclosure to withstand extreme conditions. The CIP comes with a pre-cabled meter socket, a main breaker and an industrial-rated magnetic starter. The flexibility of the CIP accommodates standard and optional components to suit individual customer needs. The unique door-in-door design provides security and functionality. The outer door can be padlocked to prevent vandalism and tampering while the inner door allows mounting of control and indicating components. CIPs are fully tested and CSA approved prior to shipment. Eaton has been Powering Business Worldwide for over 100 years, and providing irrigation solutions is one of our areas of expertise.

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volume 18 • number 1 spring 2014 HEAD OFFICE

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03 ........................ TABLE OF CONTENT 04 ...................................... RIC’S CORNER 06 - 07 .......... CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD 08 ....................................... CANAL WATER

FLOW MEASUREMENT 10 ...................................................... CORN

11 .................... AG CANADA CORN STUDY 12 .................................. CORN FOR DAIRY 14 - 15 ................ IRRIGATION SCHEDULE

PUBLISHER Jeff Sarich DESIGN & PRODUCTION Whitney Alvarez EDITOR Ric Swihart ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS Al Such & Mel McDonald ADVERTISING CO-ORDINATOR Sarah Still

18 ............................. CORN PRODUCTION INDUSTRY

19 ................................ HERMAN STROEVE 20 ................. IRRIGATION WATER QUALITY 22 - 23 ....................A.I.P.A. CONFERENCE 24 ........................................ ROD BENNETT GROWING FORWARD

25 ...................................... HEART MONTH 26 ..................... OLD MAN SCIENCE TOUR 27................................. NEWTON LUPWAYI 28 ........................ LERON TORRIE - SMRID

view online at

29 ........................................ SMRID STATS

www.farmpressltd.com

30 ................................. BRENT PATERSON IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 3


RIC’s CORNER W

hat is Mother Nature up to?

Coming off a year in 2013 when some irrigation farmers didn’t turn a pivot wheel, when rains hit southern Alberta in near record levels, and when many communities and farms and ranches had to cope with varying degrees of flood impact and damage, winter hit with a vengeance. While urban cousins had to cope with snow-packed roads, some schools, businesses and shopping malls were closed for a time. Rural folks had their own problems. But there was also a bright light from such a storm, coming off a crop production year of record yields and good quality on both irrigation and dry land farms. Skiers were likely the most excited. Heavy snow right across the mountain resort-ski hill world brought a rush of season ticket sales and a flurry of movement when hills opened for the first time. Dry land farmers welcomed the snow because of the soil moisture it promises. You can never, or at least almost never, have too much soil moisture across the vast reaches of dry land farming in the region John Palliser once declared uninhabitable. Irrigation farmers viewed the snow a little like their dry land neighbours . . . all farmers like good soil moisture. The snow was a first signal to what could be a long winter, and perhaps

record snowfall in the Rocky Mountains that form the drainage basin for the million-plus acres of irrigated land. Of course, more snow is needed to meet expectations, despite enough reservoir capacity in good years to carry much of the irrigated land. Little mountain snow means less water runoff to be collected in reservoirs. The floods, especially June 20, 2013 brought up some interesting debate about the Oldman River Reservoir. With a capacity of about 400,000 acre feet of water, a full reservoir assures water for much of the irrigated land here. The reservoir was near full when the massive rains hit leading to the June 20 flood. Floodgates on the reservoir were opened to make room for the flood of runoff, preserving the integrity of the dam. Landowners downstream are asking the province to consider an earlier draw down of the reservoir in the face of predictions of a major rain storm, spreading the higher river flows over a longer period with less damage to homes, farmsteads and livestock and machinery. Dave Ardell with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development told the recent Alberta Irrigation Projects Association conference the forecasting network was working well, but even it couldn’t keep pace with the massive runoff. Temporary reporting stations had to be quickly installed to build capacity where stations had been washed out. He said the reservoir was built to store water for downstream users with some flood control capacity. The big flood showed a major increase in inflow to the reservoir, enough to fill it to capacity in 24 hours. Finding the ideal reservoir level in the future will be discussed thoroughly, finding a happy medium between an empty reservoir to guard against floods compared with a full reservoir to combat drought. Sounds simple, depending on which side of the coin is up. At least discussions have started, and hopefully, a more satisfactory result to future major precipitation events will prevail.

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 4


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CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD Canadian Wheat Board

A

griculture Minister Gerry Ritz says the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) battle is over.  But southeastern Alberta producers want one more opportunity to provide information we feel many western wheat and barley producers are lacking. We believe that this information could turn the political debate over single-desk selling in the favor of the majority of growers who fear the CWB’s demise. The message from farmers in the recent CWB-sponsored producer plebiscite was clear: 62% in wheat producers and 51% in barley producers want to retain the CWB single-desk marketing structure. Sadly, this message has fallen on deaf ears in Ottawa. Without the Wheat Board, what will happen to rail freight costs?  Western Canadian farmers saved an estimated $35 million in grain transportation costs during the previous crop year through CWB programs designed to reduce producers’ costs for moving their grain to port. That’s because the CWB is the largest shipper in western Canada -- giving farmers much needed negotiating power with the grain handlers and the two railways—both regional monopolies. US legal challenges to Canada’s right to export grain to the United States are another issue to consider.  (The  U.S.  market normally accounts for approximately 10% of western Canadian wheat sales.  Our domestic market account for about 15%; and the remaining 75% is  sold to some 80 countries around the world).  Over the last two decades the CWB, on behalf of prairie farmers, has faced up to 14 trade challenges from the American government and its corporate partners trying to keep Canadian grain out of their market. Although the CWB has won every battle, it has cost prairie farmers in excess of $6 million to keep the US market open for Canadian grain. Who will defend producers without the Wheat Board?  Certainly not the privately-held transnational grain companies who are ready to take over once the farmer-owned CWB is gone.       Without a doubt, the biggest problem facing prairie farmers is the railways.  Farmers are captive customers to CN and CP. It starts with shortfalls in the spotting of rail cars at primary elevators.   Some grain delivery points (elevators) have been short up to 800 cars at times. Grassy Lake, Alberta,

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 6

is a prime example. Producers believe quite correctly that the additional revenue earned by the railways from moving higher value commodities is the cause. Will this change with the demise of the Wheat Board? Certainly not. Wheat Board opponents argue that higher freight rates for farmers will bring improved rail service, but this is unlikely as shippers of other higher-valued commodities will just bid freight rates higher. Meanwhile Canadian farmers face the longest shipping distances to port of any major wheat exporter – some 2200 kilometres on average. About 12,000 producer cars (rail cars loaded by producers themselves) are shipped from prairie country points every year. This allows individual producers to bypass the local grain elevator and thereby save approximately $1,200 per car in handling and storage costs. The CWB gives producer cars  priority (over the private grain handling companies) when allocating rail cars for the movement of grain to port to meet its export sales commitments. Will the private grain companies continue to give producer cars priority in the allocation of rail cars? Certainly not. 

“ “ Western Canadian farme

$35 million in grain transpo previous crop year through C reduce producers’ costs for m

The Harper Government is promising producer choice – a voluntary, “strong and viable” CWB operating in an open market. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has recently tabled legislation in Parliament (Bill C-18) to repeal the CWB Act and dismantle the CWB over the next five years. But he has provided no hard analysis of the implications of this historic change in our world-renowned grain marketing system. No solid business case for this massive change has been put forward for farmers to consider.   CWB officials have advised Minister Ritz that in order to become a successful grain company competing in an open market it would require start-up capital ($500 million plus), government financial guarantees and regulated access


to country and port terminals.  The CWB markets of our grain as a branded Canadian product.  The big grain companies prefer to sell grain as a commodity – sourced from the cheapest origin. Without a statutory monopoly the CWB would be at a distinct disadvantage to the big grain companies because it owns no country elevator or port terminal facilities.  The only physical assets the Board has are its head office in  Winnipeg, a few hundred depreciated rail hopper cars, and contracts to build two “lakers” on the St Lawrence. How would such a grain company possibly survive without its legislated monopoly? What value would it add for western farmers? Farmers have yet to receive answers to these critical questions. This is a government that promised a plebiscite on wheat, but did not follow through. It also promised it would consult farmers on any transition to an open market, but it broke that promise too. Instead, it created the Working Group on Marketing Freedom that produced a blueprint for reducing farmer income and market influence. For instance, the report says commercial negotiations should prevail in all grain sales “unless there is clear evidence of anti-competitive behavior.”  Well, let us share a secret with Minister Ritz: there’s already “anti-competitive behavior” in grain handling and rail transportation and there always has been. That’s why farmers established grain co-ops and lobbied long and hard for a Wheat Board to sell their grain. Minister Ritz’s “dual market” will only make the problem worse.  When Chuck Strahl was Minister Responsible for the CWB he commissioned a hand-picked task force to look at the concept of marketing choice. This task force quite rightly concluded that, “dual marketing” would not work. What is it Minister Ritz knows in 2011 that the former minister’s experts couldn’t figure out in 2006? Farmers represent less than 3% of the vote in federal politics. They have no voice with this government so they are asking the people of Canada to help them get through to the federal government on this important issue. Please contact your MP and demand that democracy must prevail and farmers – not ideology – must decide the future of the Canadian Wheat Board. The Wheat Board belongs to farmers. They pay its operating costs and elect 10 of its 15 member board of directors. The future of the CWB should be farmers’ decision not the governments. Western Farmers deserve to have the current legislative process slowed down to allow a cost analysis of the CWB to be undertaken. Farmers need to see a thoughtful review of the pros and cons of a so-called dual market for wheat and barley.  Bill C-18 represents major and historic change to our industry.  Change has occurred. CWB supporters failed in the courts to gain an edge. Now farmers can support the new CWB as a green company. Will it be enough is the question?

mers saved an estimated sportation costs during the h CWB programs designed to r moving their grain to port.

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 7


CANAL WATER FLOW MEASUREMENT

W

ater conservation remains at the heart of southern Alberta’s irrigation industry.

For several years, districts have been taking less water from rivers and reservoirs annually, and most have been adding irrigated acres to water rolls. The volume of water being used is significantly below water license limits. At the district level, millions of dollars spent on rehabilitation work for water distribution systems has significantly decreased water losses from seepage. Most districts continue to expand water pipeline projects, eliminating seepage and reducing the open canal network that forced many farmers to farm around obstacles. On the farm level, producers continue to modernize water delivery systems. Irrigation equipment companies continue to sell more centre pivot sprinkler systems that reduces on-farm labour requirements while permitting producers to more precisely meet crop moisture needs in a timely manner. Research hasn’t stopped. Lawrence Schinkel of Lethbridge, a senior water-monitoring technologist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s irrigation and farm water division, says a new water flow measurement system is under study at the irrigation demonstration and research farm at the Lethbridge Research Centre. The new system was introduced to the Oldman Watershed Council’s Watershed Science Tour. Schinkel said the system includes three ultrasonic sensors, each with a different measurement range. The sensors are used to let water managers know the rate of flow in a canal system, and to control that flow level to ensure enough water flows through that canal to meet needs. “That is important for irrigation districts,” he said. “With this system, a district can make sure enough water is diverting into a district so a producer on the end of the system gets his portion to irrigate his crops.”

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 8


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AG CANADA CORN STUDY S

eeding rate and row spacing are key factors in response of irrigated corn silage, according to a study in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science.

Three Lethbridge industry spokesmen who are study authors – Brian Beres with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, E. Bremer with Symbio Ag Consulting, and Corny Van Dasselaar with Country Commodities – worked on a field study to determine if high seeding rates were economically beneficial for irrigated corn silage production in southern Alberta. The three-year study showed that on average, 84 per cent of seeds produced a plant, with 12 per cent higher plant establishment in narrow (38 cm) than wide (76 cm) rows. Row spacing did not significantly affect yield, but maximum profitability was attained with a lower seeding rate for narrow rows. Whole-plant dry matter yields and net incomes were increased by 13 per cent when seeding rates were increased from 64,000 to 74,000 seeds per hectare, but were not significantly affected by seeding rates from 74,000 to 114,000 seeds per hectare. The ideal seeding rate within this range may vary due to site-specific conditions. The choice of seeding rate is an important decision for corn producers, but no single rate is best for all situations because the optimum rate varies with hybrid type, environmental conditions and agronomic practice.

the tool bar of the planter. Plant densities were monitored by counting plants within six 1.8-m row segments in each plot after complete emergence. Plots were harvested with a commercial harvester, either a Claas 900 or John Deere 7050 self-propelled forage harvester. Harvested material was weighed with feed trucks. Producers growing irrigated corn for silage in southern Alberta will maximize profitability at seeding rates ranging from 74,000 to 114,000 seeds per hectare. Net income was not sensitive to seeding rates within this range because average yield increased sufficiently with seeding rate to cover seed costs and negative effects of excessive seeding rates were not evident within the tested range. A similar response was obtained for both narrow and wide rows, though maximum profit was achieved with lower seeding rates for narrow rows. The ideal target rate may vary due to biotic pressures from weeds, diseases, and insects or abiotic pressures such as cool or dry soils in spring. Plant density was not equivalent to seeding rate. Percentage plant establishment averaged 84 per cent and was higher for narrow than wide rows. Forage quality was slightly lower for narrow than wide rows, but was unaffected by seeding rate in this study. This work was sponsored by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Alberta Corn Committee, and Pioneer HiBred.

Optimum seeding rates are higher for modern hybrids than older hybrids, short-season hybrids than long-season hybrids, irrigated systems than dryland systems and corn harvested as silage than corn harvested as grain. Studies conducted in southern Ontario found that maximum whole-plant corn yields could be achieved at a plant density of 63,000 plants per hectare. Other studies in Ontario have observed a positive yield response with plant densities as high as 100,000 plants per hectare and with a narrower row spacing. In southern Alberta, corn receives more crop heat units than central Alberta, and may have a lower optimum seeding rate, but is also irrigated, and thus may have a higher optimum seeding rate. Corn is grown in both narrow (38 cm) and wide (76 cm) rows in this region. The objective of this study was to quantify the optimum seeding rate for irrigated corn silage in southern Alberta, and to determine if row width influences forage yield and quality. A current hybrid with high yield potential and a maximum corn heat unit rating for the region was selected for this study – RoundUp Ready from Pioneer rated for 2,600 heat units. A John Deere 71 Flexi-Planter was calibrated to each seed rate using interchangeable plates. Row width was set by changing the position of opener assembly on

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 11


CORN FOR DAIRY D

riving across southern Alberta in the fall, cornfields can be used like a global positioning system to find dairy farms. Grain and silage corn have become staples in dairy rations as producers search for the ideal rations to boost milk production. Pete Houweling of Coaldale and his family introduced corn to the dairy rations about 20 years ago. High energy is the key component for Houweling. “It is a highly digestible forage, but high energy is the key,” he said. Corn comes with a low protein level, making it a perfect mix for the high volumes of alfalfa fed daily to dairy cattle. “Corn gives us a balanced diet and a good blend.” Carryover is likely because the nutrient component of corn silage increases in the pit. Corn from one year’s harvest won’t usually be used until the following January, said Houweling. Houweling said researchers are helping. Introduction of Round-Up Ready and varieties, which require lower heat units to produce a mature crop, are important in southern Alberta. Generally, as one moves west of Barnwell, about 15 km east of Lethbridge, heat units often aren’t as assured for corn production. He grows a mix of grain and silage corn, and last year grew slightly more grain corn because of access to a wider selection of low heat unit varieties. Pioneer produces varieties suited for 2,100 corn heat units and they seem to work well in southern Alberta. He has tried varieties requiring 2,300 heat units, but the longer growing season adds to the risk. When it works, yields are generally higher considering 45 per cent of the nutrition comes from the filled cob. But that means harvest must be completed before frost, said Houweling. Spring frost is also a worry, but with the first five leaves produced underground, a corn crop written off by some can come back and produce a food yield. Gerald Slomp of Iron Springs, learned the hard way to produce enough corn silage on his own farm to meet ration needs. “We ran out of corn silage one year, and after we switched to barley silage, our milk production dropped. Now, we make sure we grow enough.” Slomp said weather in his area can be a worry. A good crop is expected four in every five years, and the 2012 crop was exceptional. One of his corn crops was hit with early frost yet it produced one of the highest yields on the farm record.

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 12

Corn production requires use of a centre pivot sprinkler for irrigation, a system that can clear the tall stalks and still provide uniform water application. That also applies to grain corn, a variety Slomp plans to test this year. Slomp likes the movement in plant breeding to find varieties to meet special needs, such as corn borer resistance and more designed for Round-Up and Liberty Link programs. This becomes more important to Slomp as corn production expands in southern Alberta, bringing increased chance for plant disease problems.


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Irrigating Alberta


IRRIGATION SCHEDULE FOR CORN I

rrigation management to use optimum water volumes is the formula for a healthy silage corn crop with high yield and quality potential, says Alan Efetha of Lethbridge, irrigation management specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. But it also helps if producers ensure the silage corn crop is well-fertilized and well-protected from pests, he said. “Growers are encouraged to properly manage irrigation by regularly monitoring soil water to ensure that the availability of water does not become a limiting factor in producing a high-yielding silage corn crop,” said Efetha. Applying irrigation just before the available soil water is depleted to 60 per cent and replenishing available soil water near field capacity in the appropriate root zones is key. The goal with irrigation management is to use available irrigation water effectively in managing and controlling the soil moisture environment of crops to do three things: promote the desired crop response, minimize soil degradation, and protect water quality. Proper irrigation management requires a good understanding of a number of factors: • Soil fertility, crop nutritional requirements; • Soil-water-plant relationships; • Crop type; • Crop sensitivity to water stress; • Crop growth stages; • Availability of a water supply; • Climatic factors that affect crop water use such as rainfall, temperature, humidity, and net radiation, and; • Irrigation system capabilities and limitations. “Equipped with such knowledge, an irrigator can develop a workable, efficient, and profitable irrigation scheduling program,” said Efetha. “A workable and efficient irrigation management strategy should be crop-specific, one where water is used efficiently to meet a specific crop’s water requirements for maximum water productivity.” Efetha said that generally, the goal is to ensure that

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 14


water is available at germination and in early development by applying light, frequent irrigations if there is no rainfall. This method promotes vigorous growth and replenishes and increases available soil water content in the entire root zone during the pre-silking growth stages. “Such a strategy will allow modern sprinkler irrigation systems to meet crop demand during the peak water-use period, which typically occurs during the silking and fruit-formation growth stages,” he said. Irrigation scheduling works for silage corn, it’s a warm-season crop. It requires both warm soil and high air temperature to grow steadily and achieve greater yield. Cool temperatures slow down the progress to corn maturity, whereas warm temperatures hasten maturity, says Efetha. Silage corn uses a significant amount of water for growth and cooling purposes. Its water requirement depends on variety, growth stage, canopy density, climatic conditions, and irrigation and crop management. Typically, silage corn requires 500 to 550 mm of water per growing season when grown under optimum conditions that include a crop which is well-fertilized, wellirrigated, seeded in suitable row spacing, pest free, and uniform and optimum canopy with a plant population of 30,000 to 33,000 plants per acre. When silage corn is seeded into warm soils, greater than 10 degrees, with available water between 60 and 100 per cent of soil capacity in early May in southern Alberta, silage corn will germinate, grow rapidly, and reach a peak water use of nearly eight mm per day during the tasseling, silking and fruit-formation growth stages. Crop water use declines to 2 to 3 mm per day during ripening. Efetha said, on average, the roots of silage corn grow to an effective water extraction depth of 100 cm in a well-developed soil. Root distribution is concentrated near the surface so silage corn obtains more than 70 per cent of its water from the upper 50 cm of the 100-cm active root zone. The active root zone changes from a few millimeters at emergence to a maximum depth of 100 cm at the tasseling and silking growth stages. Ideally soil water content in the 0 to 50-cm depth should be greater than 60 per cent of readily available water at planting. If seeded in a dry seedbed (less than 60 per cent of available in the 0 to 50-cm depth) in early May before irrigation water is available, the first and subsequent irrigations (15 mm per irrigation event) should be applied as soon as irrigation water is available. These irrigations should be light and frequent to maintain a moist soil surface to

prevent crusting and encourage rapid emergence and early root development. Preferably, irrigation should be applied before seeding if dry soil conditions prevail. If well fertilized, a pest-free silage corn stand will reach maximum silage dry matter yield and quality if ample water is available in the root zone during the emergence, leaf production (vegetative), tasseling, and silking growth stages. To ensure that ample water is available to silage corn during the vegetative through silking growth stages, available soil moisture should not be depleted to less than 60 per cent in the upper 50 cm of the 100-cm root zone. Any irrigation applied during the vegetative through silking growth stages should start when the available soil water is near 65 per cent of available to prevent the available soil water from being depleted to less than 60 per cent in the 0 to 50-cm depth. Maintaining available soil water above 60 per cent in the upper 50-cm depth during the vegetative through silking growth stages necessitates light and frequent irrigation applications. Irrigation water applied during early growth stages should meet crop water requirements and build up soil water to near field capacity in the 50 to 100-cm zone to ensure that ample water is available for use during the peak water-use period, such as during blister kernel and milk growth stages in midAugust. Silage corn is most sensitive to inadequate soil water during the tasseling and silking growth stages, he said. Inadequate soil water during these stages results in moisture stress, which may desiccate silks and pollen grains, causing poor pollination, seed set, and barren ear tips; hence, poor silage yield and quality. Silage corn roots reach maximum extension at the tasseling to silking growth stages. To ensure that soil water is adequate throughout the root zone during these stages, the monitoring depth of the root zone should be maintained at 50 cm and then increased from 50 to 100 cm at the blister kernel growth stage, and soil water should not be depleted to less than 60 per cent of available. The timing of the last irrigation to refill the root zone for silage corn depends largely on the soil texture, prevailing weather conditions, and availability of irrigation water. The final irrigation to refill the root zone may be applied between the dough and dent growth stages, a week to 10 days before harvest.

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 15


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CORN PRODUCTION INDUSTRY C

orn production continues a slow increase in southern Alberta, with most gains in the grain side of the industry, says an industry spokesman. Elizabeth Tokariuk of Coaldale, Alberta Corn Committee manager, says some of the increase comes on the heels of corn crop losses in the United States, prompting more producers in Alberta to plant. Silage corn production remains more static. Most corn users, dairymen and cattle feeders, produce their own corn needs, although, says Tokariuk, “there are some contract growers in the area.” Some acreage increase comes with cattlemen who plant corn to provide grazing for herds. Tokariuk said total corn production in southern Alberta was about 40,000 acres, but with increases it is likely nudging 50,000 acres. Grain corn production was the focus of former Lethbridge Research Station researcher Stan Freyman. He worked on varietal trials, and even helped organize a price premium of 50 cents a bushel, declining 10 cents a bushel over five years, as incentive to produce it. Tokariuk said producing the type of grain corn needed for the chipping industry proved a stumbling block. Southern Alberta grain corn could be used, but chipmakers would have had to alter recipes. The 2012 committee members include Lethbridge industry officials Bruce MacKinnon and Corny Van Dasselaar on the executive committee. Directors include Bruce MacKinnon, Bill Hamman, Adrian Moens, and Lethbridge Dairy Mart, all of Lethbridge. Others include Talbot Bergsma of Carman, Man., Harley Bell of Winnipeg, Kevin Dunse of Cochrane, Gordon Frank of Brooks, Alan Patterson of Rolling Hills, Kent Price of Calgary, Lloyd Van Eeden Petersman of Taber, Tom Van Moorsel of Red Deer, and Jim Wever of Burdett. Ex-officio officer include Brian Beres and Ryan Dyck with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, Vern Baron with the Lacombe Research Centre of AAFC and Don David with the Can-Sask Irrigation Divers Centre at Outlook, Sask.

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 18


HERMAN STROEVE His introduction to corn was almost an accident. About 15 years ago, he bought some sandy loam land, a purchase questioned at the time by many. Stroeve calculated that land, with a pivot sprinkler, could be a foundation for a corn silage venture. Today, the farm annually grows about 600 acres of corn, silaging with a used chopper and stockpiling the silage until needed. His first planting venture was with a hoe grain drill, which quickly gave way to a standard corn planter to obtain optimum depth control and plant population. He settled on a 22-inch row spacing, similar to that used to plant sugar beets. Planting seeds six inches apart achieves his preferred 3,200-plant-per-acre population. His sandy-loam soil corn experiment continues to draw ahs from passersby amazed at the tremendous plant stand with plants so tall and advanced. “It is the right kind of soil,” he said. “It is also vital to plant the crop when the soil has warmed enough and the soil texture is loose.” He has planted corn on that land every year the past 12 years and “last year’s crop was beautiful.”

L

ife in Canada has been kind to Herman Stroeve, aided by a work ethic that has resulted in a lean, work-hard body and a smooth-running cattle feedlot.

Life has taken a new curve. Stroeve and his wife Elizabeth have sold the family farm to family members, and now he can assume advisor status, if needed. Unlikely, he says, since he handpicked his successors – one with extensive experience in farming and the others the next generation. When Stroeve arrived in Lethbridge from Holland with 11 siblings more than 50 years ago, little did he know his farming life would revolve around cattle and barley, and a secret weapon in the game of producing fine beef – corn silage. After a timer working for a producer in the Milk River area, he got his first taste of irrigation working with Walter F. Boras in the Picture Butte area. He worked one year and then, working with brothers, started investing in land near Picture Butte. They ran a few cows, and decided to begin feeding the “coulee calves,” an introduction to a flourishing cattle feeding venture that maintains about 7,000 head in a year, buying and selling weekly when possible.

He has moved to Round-up Ready corn, even on the more clay-based land. But his sandy loam allows him to use higher heat-unit requiring varieties to produce higher yields. Low heat-unit varieties for longer growing season weather are reserved for the clay land. He usually applies manure from his feedlot annually. Like other farmers who like Roundup Ready varieties, volunteer chemical-resistant crops can invade a field. Canola he feels blows in from other farmers can pose a problem on his corn land. That’s when he cultivates, applies Atrazene which doesn’t affect corn but gets rid of other unwanted plant material, and then seeds his corn. Stroeve chops the entire corn plant into six to eight-inch pieces, including the cobs and kernels, and loves it as his ration roughage that comes with good nutrition. “We chop it so we can make it as palatable as possible.” He starts cattle on the corn ration as soon as they are introduced to the feed pens, watching early in the year when corn energy from the previous year’s crop is high. When that is the situation, he adds some hay to the corn silage. Stroeve said the feeding operation, when full, uses about a super-B of barley daily. “Barley is still the backbone of a full-feed cattle operation, but corn adds some balance to the cattle ration.” He also grows barley, but finds the crop can struggle if it gets dry for a few days. “But with the corn, you put the water to it and it keeps growing. It’s the best crop I’ve grown for production.”

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 19


IRRIGATION WATER QUALITY T

he quality of irrigation water in Alberta ranges from fair to excellent for all water uses, even following the flood of 2013, says a provincial water quality specialist. It is being monitored, says Andrea Kalischuk, water quality branch head for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s irrigation and farm water division. Still, reported findings must have risk interpretation. She recommends that crop species that might be exposed to toxic substances should be protected.

Based on maximum irrigation rates and sensitivity of crop to pollutants, studies showed that water quality for irrigation was generally good or excellent. Kalischuk told 160 delegates at the 2013 Alberta Irrigation Projects Association conference in Lethbridge that water quality depends on use. Irrigation guidelines protect crop species that might be exposed to toxic substances, she said, based on maximum irrigation rates and sensitivity of crop to pollutants. The guidelines also include livestock watering, based on protecting all livestock. It is based on possible accumulation in the animals bodies. Another guideline is protection of aquatic life; It is designed to protect all plants and animals that live in lakes, rivers and oceans. It is based on toxicity data for 100 per cent protection of all species all of the time. Kalischuk said the study shows that 20 per cent of the diverted water is returned to rivers, and that water quality degrades from source to return to rivers. Return flow impact on river water is also studied, have been inconclusive. It showed return volumes range from three to 10 per cent of river flow, and that impacts change throughout the irrigation season especially when river flows are lowest. Reservoir studied included McGregor, Travers and Little Bow, and that water quality improvement effects were noticeable. Concentrations downstream were similar to preflood conditions. The study found no water quality guidelines were exceeded. And almost all irrigation guidelines were met with the exception E. coli, exceeded at four of the five sites with concentrations, and was 50 per cent higher than historical downstream of Bassano. Pathogens were also monitored post-flood. The findings included:

•N  o concerns with irrigation district water quality post-flood for intended uses • I f present in irrigation water, the risk to food safety and drinking water is low •9  9 per cent of crops are processed or used to feed livestock •M  any steps from field-to-plate that minimize exposure •A  ll drinking water must be treated prior to consumption IRRIGATING IRRIGATING ALBERTA ALBERTA -- Spring Spring 2014 2014 •• 20 20

• All produce should be washed


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A.I.P.A. he Alberta government has boosted its flood preparation information network to gain an edge over massive losses to people and property, while two organizations claim a vibrant system is in place to reduce flood impacts, but needs a lot of support and work. Dave Ardell of Edmonton, with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, told the 2013 Alberta Irrigation Projects Association conference in Lethbridge, the impact of the 2013 flood was major, and the department’s monitoring system was able to perform. But in some areas, monitoring stations were actually destroyed by floodwaters, but information was restored with temporary units. Still, there was uncertainty on instream flow information and not enough information to accommodate climate variability across the flood area. He promised the department would follow up all pieces of information gathered. That follow-up work will include: • A full review of the adequacy of the monitoring stations; • A full review of river information; Ardell said the department will also review reservoir operation. One idea is to have an empty reservoir to capture water runoff to minimize flood impacts or a full reservoir designed to guard against drought. He said the department would change its approach to landowners and farmers who might be affected by a flood. “There will be more operational communication with landowners.” Ardell said that will include methods or river emergency notification with producers; making sure river operation information will be available to downstream landowners; assess landowners notification tools and to assess available communication technologies. “You can turn on a pivot with an iPad so there are better ways to do better,” he said. Tracy Scott, a spokesman for Ducks Unlimited, said a major reservoir for water in Alberta continues to decline. DU has for years fought to enhance wetlands across Alberta for the benefit of wildlife. But wetlands are also a major reservoir for water, he said. He called wetlands a natural infrastructure that provides added storage for no cost to the taxpayer. “We think we need to do more cumulative effects planning,” he said. The problem is loss of wetlands, especially in the face of serious floods, especially across much of southern Alberta in recent years. He said 133,000 hectares of wetlands have been lost in southern Alberta in the last 60 years. “We have lost 13 to 15 times the storage capacity of the Glenmore Reservoir (in Calgary),” he said. With the massive 2013 flood, there is more talk of building water storage facilities that would be left empty to be able to capture floodwater before it causes massive damage. “They don’t realize the water storage capacity of the wetlands in Alberta,” he said. “Even a small decrease in flooding will be a benefit for society.” Norine Ambrose, a spokesman for Cows and Fish, pointed to another valuable water storage resource — riparian areas

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 22

that are the plant-rich regions linked to rivers, creeks and streams and other wet areas. She said floods will happen, but with riparian areas perhaps water can be slowed down before it floods some areas. “We can’t get rid of all floods. But we can have an impact.” That can be enhanced, she said. Only about one-quarter of Alberta’s riparian areas are in healthy condition. “We need more riparian management.” KIRT WOOLF He started with United Irrigation District as labourer, but finished his career as manager, spanning 37 years of service. Woolf also served with AIPA for about 15 years. At the 2013 Alberta Irrigation Projects Association annual conference in the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel, Woolf was given a Gold Award for his service to irrigated agriculture. Woolf said irrigation rehabilitation comes to smaller districts also, and he had a hand in helping UID rehabilitate 62 per cent of the 34,000-acre district in the foothills west of Cardston. Farmers in that district grow canola, wheat, barley, and hay, and irrigate pasture for livestock. Woolf retired in 2009. Fred Rice succeeded him as manager.

Kirt Woolf

T

ALAN HARROLD Measuring water used in the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District is the key to expansion, the district manager told 160 at the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association annual convention. Alan Harrold said water flow information collected provides a historical reference for water use, and it also allows the district to view every area and determine potential for growth and expansion. Expansion requires district’s knowledge of infrastructure’s ability to handle increased irrigation demand in any given area. Harrold said flow meter is one of the most important factors for future growth and expansion. Water measurement aids in efficient delivery of water to farmers. It’s also vital for water users who need records for things like


LNID boasts of 1,000 km of waterways, and 445 km of pipelines with 53 of them completely closed. It also has 260 km of drains. The district covers 450 sections of land Measurement starts with 55 devices to measure water in real time. They allow the district to monitor flows through the district at any point in time. That allows ditchriders to assess where water is needed, and to adjust flows. Flow measurement devices also help detect and minimize problems. For instance, they help put the right amount of water in the right area. A transmitter reads the flow and can adjust the water gates to meet water needs. It also uses water level indictor transmitters. They can detect water flow problems that require adjustments in water supply to the area. Another measurement tool helps locate leaks in the system; they are used mostly at the start of a closed pipeline. Pump station management is also critical, he said. The stations have many pumps delivering water to a precise irrigated area. Costs of operating a station are allocated to the pipeline water users based on actual water use on each parcel of land. For instance, the Keho-Barons station provides water for 10,780 acres on 75 parcels of land. Management of a station uses

information gathered from water meters to calculate water usage for billing purposes. Many farmers use data from that system for their own use. LNID isn’t installing flow metres on all new projects, but there is provision for easy installation later. He feels flow meters have helped LNID boost water use efficiency. It is exceeding the 30 per cent efficiency improvement dictated by the Water for Life Strategy unveiled a few years ago through the Alberta government.

Alan Harrold

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ROD BENNETT GROWING FORWARD E

fficiency gains have won widespread plaudits for all sectors of the province’s irrigation sector. Now, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development is giving irrigation farmers a boost to further enhance on-farm efficiencies with Growing Forward 2. Rod Bennett of Lethbridge, head of the irrigation management branch for ADR’s irrigation and farm water division, said irrigation efficiency is a carryover from Growing Forward 1, which ended in 2011. Growing Forward 2 has more than 20 components, many yet to be unveiled. The first plan is farmer funding – 40 per cent to a maximum of $5,000 when up to $12,500 of spending is approved. Bennett said his branch has received 90 applications this year; 80 of them qualified because they met program requirements. The Irrigation Efficiency Program was designed to help irrigation farmers purchase energy-efficient, low-pressure centre pivots, including high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles, and equipment for variable rate irrigation. They can also convert older high-pressure pivots to low-pressure status. Bennett said annual program – April 1 to March 31 – funding is limited. Funding is available on a firsttime, first-served basis. Only one grant is allowed for a producer over the five-year period. To qualify, a producer must present a long-term irrigation management plan. The new equipment must be purchased from a recognized dealer with at least 20 per cent paid at application time, and the invoice included with the application. The new equipment must be operational within six months of application. Bennett said annual funding is not set. This year, some unspent money from dry land water programs is being shifted to the Irrigation Efficiency Program.

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 24


HEART MONTH February is Heart Month A

s Heart Month begins, new research shows that adding peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils, known collectively as “pulses”, to a regular diet can reduce cholesterol, a risk factor in cardiovascular disease. A 2011 study led by Dr. Philip Chilibeck, professor at the College of Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan, was designed to determine the effects of a pulse-based diet in individuals over the age of 50.  Study participants consumed two daily servings (about 1 1/2 cups) of pulses for two months. The study showed that compared to their regular diet, the pulse-based diet decreased the participants’ total cholesterol

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by 8.3 per cent.  This reduction included a 7.9 per cent drop in LDL, also known as “bad” cholesterol, over the two-month period.  The level of decrease for both total and LDL cholesterol seen from pulses in this study is similar to those seen from eating oats and plant sterols, both of which recently received approved health claims in Canada for their cholesterollowering effects. In Canada, it is estimated that approximately 50 per cent of the general adult population has moderate to high cholesterol levels.   “Our results confirmed that adding pulses to a regular diet can result in a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Chilibeck. Pulses are a heart-healthy food. They are rich in nutrients like protein, fibre, folate and antioxidants.  They are low in fat, and contain no trans fat, sodium or cholesterol. Eating pulses regularly may also lower risk of cardiovascular disease via favourable effects on blood pressure, blood glucose and insulin levels by satisfying hunger and helping manage body weight. “Increased pulse consumption can be an important part of a dietary strategy to reduce the risk of heart disease,” says Dr. Julianne Curran, Director of Research, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for Pulse Canada. Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death, and account for nearly 30 per cent of deaths worldwide each year. 

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IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 25


OLD MAN SCIENCE TOUR F

armers know the value of quality water, says a provincial water management engineer.

Lloyd Healy of Lethbridge, long an irrigation specialist at Vauxhall before assuming new duties with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s irrigation and farm water division, said irrigation farmers, especially market garden producers, demand optimum quality water. In an interview during a recent Oldman Watershed Council shoreline information tour in the Lethbridge-Picture Butte area, Healy said that is one reason more work is being done to monitor river water quality and return flows from a wide sector of farmland and urban areas. Two speakers, Claudia Sheedy with Agriculture and AgriFood Canada’s Lethbridge Research Centre, and University of Lethbridge biology researcher Alice Hontela, outlined potential impacts rural and urban people have on water quality. On the farm scene, management to control pharmaceuticals before they enter watercourses is gaining headway. Earlier in the tour, about 45 participants were shown best management practices in the feedlot industry by Picture Butte feeder Leighton Kolk. His potential runoff could collect in the Battersea Drain without management decisions and actions. And producer Garrett Haarman explained the environmental benefits of his new liquid manure composter he installed at his feedlot. Hontela said aquatic animals are often the first indicators of too many pharmaceuticals entering water courses. Veterinary medicines are important when needed, but producers must protect watercourses from potential contamination from urine and manure that can wash from farms into the water system. Farms aren’t the only problem, she said. Estrogen, a key part of birth control pills entering the water system through urine, has been found in river systems. There are more users in urban areas. And like some other contaminants, wastewater treatment plants can’t remove all the estrogen. Contamination can also hit water systems from personal care products, including perfumes, which usually wash off in the bath or shower. Some of those products stay in the water, and can become part of the drinking water, she said. That is an issue for researchers. Such potential contaminants are used in tons of products, she said. The City of Lethbridge also contributes to river quality concerns. Sheedy pointed to early results from the second year of a three-year study on storm water return flows to the Oldman River. The study has been based on nine sites in Lethbridge. It is a project of the city, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 26

College and Agriculture Canada. Water leaving storm outlets at the nine sites is tested monthly during summer. A site upstream and downstream of the project area confirms heavier loads of pesticides, bacteria and plant nutrients can be traced directly to the city. The good news is the level of nutrients declined in 2013 from 2012. Only ammonia showed an increase. Nutrient levels were highest originating from the university area. Ten pesticides were detected in 2012. That category increased to 16 in 2013. The lowest pesticide levels were detected at the upstream test site.


NEWTON LUPWAYI E

ducation and agricultural research has been a major part of Newton Lupwayi’s life spanning four continents.

Raised in a village in Malawi in a small Christian nation surrounded by Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, Lupwayi credits the former English colony and the Malawi people for a peaceful lifestyle that helps support a strong education system. Scottish missionaries brought the Presbyterian Church to his part of the country; the English brought the Anglican Church to other parts, and the Roman Catholic Church is the major non-Protestant denomination. Still, about 10 per cent of the population is Muslim, and mostly, the elderly frequent the traditional Malawi churches. He attended school in his village through Grade 8, and like most students in Malawi, attended boarding school through Grade 12, coming home only for holidays. He studied some agriculture in grade school, enough to spark an educational career in the world of soil science. His first stop was at Lilongew, capital city of Malawi and home to the major university that runs three campus sites each with specialized training. He worked for one year before heading for the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where he earned his Master of Science in soil chemistry and fertility. He returned home to teach at the university for three years. In that time, he met and married his wife Mary who had a diploma in agriculture, later adding a BSc in forestry. The couple has three children; son Tawonga, 23, is studying journalism at Grant MacEwen University, son Alinafe, 21 is in the education program at University of Lethbridge, and his daughter, Wiza, 15, attends Chinook High School. He continued his education in New Zealand, again specializing in soil. He graduated in 1990. Again, he returned home to teach, but in 1992, he responded to an opportunity to become a research associate in soils at the International Livestock Research Institute in Ethiopia. After 2 1/2 years, he was in the institute library when he noticed a pamphlet calling for applications for a two-year term job in Canada. His introduction to Canada was in Beaverlodge, a good learning ground for real winters. He worked there for 15

years, but was stymied in his work by the lack of equipment. He transferred to the Lethbridge Research Centre in September 2009. He has carved out a research career in three main areas. He is looking at environmentally sustainable agriculture, learning what is happening to the soil resource when fertilizers and chemicals are used to boost food production. He also studies nitrogen fixation, a trait of legume crops, and is seeking ways to help those plants produce even greater amount of the key fertilizer from the air through rhizobia in the plant root system. He said some have tried to find way for wheat to fix nitrogen. But it has been shown that wheat, barley and canola will show some benefits when grown on soils that grew legumes previously. And now work is being done to determine if the rhizobia-laden soils may help canola resist traditional oilseed diseases black leg and sclerotinia. He also works on nutrient retention studies using crop residues. Much of his work has confirmed the need for strong crop rotations. Normally, a legume crop should be grown on the same land one in four years. And yet alfalfa, another nitrogen fixing crop, is normally left in production for six to 10 years, and often will leave a nitrogen benefit for subsequent crops for a few years. Work has been productive for Lupwayi. He has published about 70 papers and journals, including about 50 as the lead scientist.

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IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 27


LERON TORRIE - SMRID G

RASSY LAKE – Change has been one of the constants in LeRon Torrie’s farming life, and much of that change has been in the realm of irrigation.

Cereal harvest on the family’s 2,000-acre irrigated farm six kms northwest of here is the backbone of the operation, crops mostly the first harvested to avoid weather-related issues. His real cash crop, a large field of hybrid seed canola, dotted by small tents which shelter the vital leafcutter bees used to pollinate the female plant strips from alternating strips of male plants, is watched closely to determine the optimum harvest schedule. A major change came recently when LeRon’s three sons officially joined the family farm that is also home to a brother and his son. That manpower has its advantages. “I haven’t even been on a combine this fall,” he said outside his neat home and park-like garden just south of the home and yard where he was raised. His father was an irrigator early in his farming career, flooding up to 200 acres in the age-old method of watering crops. In 1975, LeRon took a major step. He got married, he officially became a farmer and he helped introduce the first mechanical irrigation system to the farm. “We were considering buying wheel-move sprinklers in 1975, but a government official suggested we wait a bit because some new advances were coming to southern Alberta from Nebraska”. The new product purchased by the Torries was a quartersection Valley water-drive pivot. It was made with galvanized metal, a major step forward from the previous pivots that were painted to guard against rust. “We also liked it because, with a lot of labour, the pivot could be towed to different fields,” he said, “we worked hard, moving the pivot to a new quarter every six days. After a time, we realized it worked best towed between two fields for optimum water application. We towed it to a different field in the fall to build soil moisture levels there”. LeRon was 23 that year, and he remembers the power and energy needed for the high-pressure system. It took 100 horsepower to generate 1,200 gallons a minute flow. It required 90 pounds per inch pressure at the pivot point, but in those days, energy was cheap. “Today, we have a pivot in every field,” he said. “Nobody would ever consider towing a pivot to another field.” Now, he can run a modern low-pressure pivot with 25 horsepower to generate 25 PSI pressure at the pivot and 10 PSI at the end of the pivot. Drop tubes to put the sprinkler heads closer to the crop also helps save energy and do a better job of putting the

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 28

water where it is needed, he said. For every foot the sprinkler drops closer to the crop, about one per cent less energy is used. “Irrigation makes a major difference in agriculture,” said Torrie, “when we were mostly dry land farmers, we started summer fallowing half the land every year. We moved to two crops on the same land before summer fallowing it. The farm supported one family. Today, we crop every acre every year, and now, this farm supports six families.” Surrounded now by potato growers, Torrie said crop selection is massive because of irrigation. He grows hybrid canola seed every year, limited by a contract requirement to limit production to one parcel once every four years to assure quality seed and eliminate the threat of diseases like club root.


SMRID STATS

S

t. Mary River Irrigation District farmers grew crops on 346,078 acres of the district’s 374,407 acres in 2011, the last official reporting period, according to annual report for that crop year.

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Hard red spring wheat leads the way with 75,675 acres, including 70,393 acres that were irrigated. Other irrigated cereals include 18,635 acres of barley, 130 acres of CPS wheat, 24,088 acres of durum, 811 acres of oats, 3,406 acres of soft wheat, 1,419 acres of triticale and 6,036 acres of winter wheat.

Oilseed crops include 54,904 acres of canola, 12,746 acres of canola seed, 2,770 acres of flax, and 70 acres of hyola.

Specialty crops include 132 acres of caraway, 144 acres of carrots, 265 acres of catnip, 1,227 acres of dill, 18,914 acres of dry beans, 1,641 acres of dry peas, 379 acres of faba beans, 1,414 acres of sweet corn, 1,981 acres of fresh peas, 2,466 acres of grain corn, 4,621 acres of grass hay, 130 acres of grass seed, 1,925 acres of industrial hemp, 247 acres of lentils, 198 acres of market gardens, 4,389 acres of mint, 380 acres of nursery crops, five acres of onions, 16,863 acres of potatoes, 105 acres of small fruit crops, 359 acres of sorghum Sudan grass, 12,535 acres of sugar beets, 1,035 acres of sunflowers, and 315 acres of turf sod.

1-877-663-2615 IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 29


BRENT PATERSON W

hen a strapping young man left his boyhood Rimbey home for university on his career path he had no idea the magnitude of his thumbprint on the irrigation industry. Brent Paterson remembers, while finishing his master’s degree about Nov. 1, 1973, two job openings with Alberta Agriculture – one a soil specialist, the other a drainage specialist. The drainage job brought Paterson to southern Alberta and was his introduction to the world of water. Relocation came with a little shock – Rimbey farmers often complain of too much rain at times. “It was a time when irrigation got a hold of me,” he said. “It was also the time when the department established its irrigation division in Lethbridge.” That division experienced many changes over the years, and took on its present form when current Alberta Deputy Agriculture Minister John Knapp molded the Alberta Farm Water and Irrigation Division. Knapped named Paterson director of the division with responsibilities across the province. “Irrigation has always been the foundation of the division,” said Paterson. It also has had a major financing focus for the province through the cost-shared irrigation rehabilitation program. That program was launched in 1969 as a short-term boost to help an aging irrigation industry modernize. The backbone was a funding formula calling for 86 per cent of approved rehabilitation projects funded by the province and irrigators paying 14 per cent through their annual water rates charged

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Spring 2014 • 30

by the individual irrigation districts. That formula several years ago was adjusted to require farmers to pay 25 per cent. “That program covers about 70 per cent of Canada’s irrigation industry,” said Paterson. “That program is the catalyst for everything we see in Alberta’s world-class irrigation industry.” Water has become a major limiting factor for irrigation expansion, but major efficiency inroads at all levels of the industry has helped reduce the volume of water needed to irrigate most crops. On-farm water use efficiency was 35 per cent, he said. That has increased to 75 per cent today, and within 10 to 15 years, it will be 95 per cent. “That is one reason, despite the high cost of irrigation development, that there are still line-ups of farmers who would irrigate in a heartbeat,” he said. “There is some of the better irrigated land for sale, but most likely will be passed down through the family.” The Alberta irrigation industry has been a haven for technology development, and that has put Alberta on the global map. The Canadian International Development Agency considers Alberta a leader in irrigation development. A lot of the expertise and irrigation technology developed in Alberta has been loaned to many parts of the world. Rehabilitation continues to make progress, he said. More than half of the Alberta industry’s 8,000 kilometres of canals has been replaced with water-saving pipelines, which allow farmers to work over land previously interrupted by open canals while reducing evaporation losses significantly.


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Irrigating Alberta Spring 2014