| ||Executive Summary
The Rosebud River, Serviceberry Creek and Crowfoot Creek (RSC) watershed area in Alberta is significant from both agricultural and waterfowl habitat perspectives. Information that supports understanding the nature of agricultural production and possible water quality relationships is required at the local level. The integrated land resource and production databases developed from this project can provide a current reference of agricultural and soil resource data for use at the local level.
The objectives of this project are:
Land systems are biophysical units that describe the land resources at the regional or municipal level. The land systems of the RSC watershed are taken from AGRASID. Census data from 1991 and 1996 were obtained and used for this project. The Census data were linked to the land system polygons and reprocessed to produce a land system - Census of Agriculture database for each Census year (1991 and 1996).
- Provide 1991 and 1996 Census of Agriculture data referenced to land systems for the RSC watershed area.
- Determine if a land use/ water quality relationship may be inferred from the Census data.
- Apply the information at the local level to support local planning.
From the databases, agricultural profiles were created using six themes: land use, land management, livestock, conservation practices, tillage practices to prepare land for seeding and weed control on summerfallow. These agricultural profile tables outline the 1991 Census data, the 1996 Census data and the change between the two Censuses. Another table of selected variables from some of the 1996 Census profiles looks at some of the more significant variables when making inferences to water quality and presents them together for comparison by land system.
From the change in the data between Census years, overall trends in the watershed are identified. Linkages or inferences are also identified that can be made between the land use - Census of Agriculture databases, and the potential risk factors to water quality in the entire watershed and in individual land systems. The risk factors can be considered as practices that improve or degrade water quality in relation to the land use.
Recommendations from this project include:
The complete Rosebud River, Serviceberry Creek and Crowfoot Creek (RSC) Watershed Land System - Census of Agriculture Database Project Report is available as PDF file (4.9 Mb. Download time at 56 Kbps is 13 minutes).
- The land system - Census of Agriculture databases are a useful tool to tie land use and land management to water quality within the RSC watershed. Additional land use data and water quality data, however, are required to further understand the association between the two. Additional data may come from detailed surveys, on-farm visits or from Census data of the non-agricultural area of the watershed (non-farming population of the watershed).
- In order to apply the information at the local level, a project that would link the land system - Census of Agriculture databases with local water quality information should be undertaken. The local data could be useful to validate the effectiveness of the land system - Census of Agriculture databases for describing the nature of agriculture and management practices that may affect the environment. Presenting this information could be a useful tool for raising awareness and providing education to create the motivation needed for practice change at the local level. A Terms of Reference for a water quality mapping project is currently being prepared which will outline a future project of this type to provide the tools for the education and awareness of the linkages.
- Subsequent to the water quality-mapping project mentioned above, a community-based watershed planning initiative is recommended. Once awareness is raised concerning water quality issues, information regarding appropriate land use practices within the watershed can be addressed. As well, the Alberta Water Quality Index for Agriculture (Small Streams) could be calculated for the watersheds to assist with community-based planning.
- From the data presented, questions are raised concerning how to determine the basis for the trends and changes. With a thorough analysis of the data and local input, it would be possible to answer some of these questions. By posing these questions locally, the local knowledge and experience would assist in explaining the data and understanding the trends, thereby making the data even more useful.
- Work on risk factors that improve or degrade water quality in relation to land use, should continue as a vehicle to communicate the land management practices that benefit water quality and agricultural production, and in turn the agricultural community.