Ag News & Events

List of Upcoming Events and Products

Annual Weed Workshops: Save the date!
  • May 21, 2024 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm Condor Community Hall
  • May 28, 2024 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm Crammond Hall
Come out and partake in the provided education on weed management in Clearwater County. We will discuss weeds of concern and available herbicides. Free to attend and lunch will be provided! Contact 403-846-4040 to register. 
Tree Seedling Program: 
  • Spruce and pine seedlings available to purchase for shelterbelt or woodlot rejuvenation with a July delivery. Seedlings are first come first serve. Application forms can be found on Clearwater County’s website. Deadline to submit application forms is June 7th. Contact 403-846-4040 or email landcare@clearwatercounty.ca for more information.
Hemp Fiber Mats for Purchase:
  • Weeds rob seedlings of moisture, nutrients and sunlight therefore new plantings may benefit from this form of vegetation management. Available in 12" for $.66 or 18" for $1.35. Place an order with your 2024 seedling order or separately. For more information call 403-846-4040.
Caring for My Land funding Program (C4ML) 
  • The C4ML program offers 25%-75% funding – up to $5000 - through Alberta Environment and Parks Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program and EPCORE. 
  • To learn more, click here or contact us at 403-846-4040 / landcare@clearwatercounty.ca.
Join the Landcare email list:
  •  Are you interested in grant programs and new funding opportunities, virtual events, workshops, webinars, and receiving educational articles or video links relating to healthy and sustainable water and land? 
  • Send an email to landcare@clearwatercounty.ca to be subscribed!

Most Recent Ag News Article

May 15, 2024 - When the Pond Goes Green

Improving water quality in dugouts and ponds.

Now that it looks like the warmer weather is here to stay it may be time to take a breath of fresh air and regard the odour and appearance of our dugouts and ponds. If that deep breath has you plugging your nose it may be the sour aroma produced from the breakdown of algae and plant material. An overload of decaying vegetation can contribute to changes in water quality such as colour and taste.

Algae plays an important role in the aquatic environment by acting as a food source for organisms living in the dugout or pond, but it can get out of control quickly. With the right combination of nutrients, warm weather and sunlight, accelerated algae growth can occur.  

While we may not be able to control the weather one factor that can be managed is runoff.  Agricultural runoff is a major contributor to the nutrient overloading of dugouts and ponds.

Nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, added to the soil over years and years of application can be leached out along with excess sediment into water bodies after heavy rain or rapid snowmelt. This provides an encouraging environment for algae blooms.  

When algae blooms decompose oxygen is consumed. The lowered oxygen levels in the water can then unsettle the ecology of the entire dugout or pond.

Fencing around the water body and creating an off-site water source for livestock will ensure that contamination does not reach the dugout or pond. A dike system around the water body can also assist in redirecting sediment and additional contaminated runoff while allowing cleaner water in.  

Establishing a healthy plant-based perimeter or riparian zone around the water body can assist with bank stabilization and structure. Riparian areas have numerous benefits that include acting as a filtration system for pollutants and assisting in lowering water temperatures while increasing oxygen levels.

Aeration is critically important. By circulating water healthy dissolved oxygen levels are sustained and temperatures are kept cool. Zooplankton thrive in a cool oxygenated environment and can feed on the existing algae within the water. These miniscule animals become food for insects, which then become food for fish and other creatures, thus maintaining the ecosystem’s cycle.

Nutrients from sediment that have settled at the bottom of the dugout or pond are more likely to stay put when aeration is in place. The system prevents the release of excess phosphorus and iron from the sediment minimizing the available food source for algae and limiting algae blooms.

Other treatments have their pros and cons. 

Copper sulphate, or bluestone, is a common chemical method used in dugouts and ponds to eliminate algae. Before including it as part of a control system be sure to review both its positive and negative effects.  

Bluestone is effective against algae, but it also kills off beneficial zooplankton and other creatures within the ecological cycle of the water body, disrupting the natural algae control that exists in the dugout or pond. If it is being used to kill off cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, high concentrations of toxins can be released as this alga dies, which is extremely harmful and consumption by humans or animals should be avoided.

A copper resistant alga has also developed as a reaction to the overuse of bluestone. The resistant strain has little competition in the way of food or predators which can lead right back to large algae blooms.

Barley straw has been suggested to resolve algae issues, but it can only suppress not kill algae. It’s not as easy as chucking in a few bales.  

Dosing is an issue. Too much straw and the decomposition deplete more oxygen killing aquatic life.  Too little and the suppression is minimal. Penn State University Extension recommends 10-25 grams of straw per square meter of pond area.  

Straw is typically in a mesh bag, anchored mid-pond to the bottom with the bag just below the surface to allow adequate sunlight and oxygen. The process is tedious for an attempt at suppression only.

Depending on water temperature, it can take two to five weeks to chemicals in the straw to activate. Early application with cooler temperatures is recommended. With a short growing season this is a challenge to get ahead of algae growth. Variables such as type of algae, climate, water conditions and timing each disrupt the effectiveness of the straw. 

There are various branded chemical treatments available. Some require repeated applications, some need the water to be agitated and, depending the size of the water source, may require a boat ride to the inner area of the pond.

The two best methods remain tried and true. Management contaminating runoff and aerate, aerate, aerate your dugout or pond. An investment in equipment and practices to accomplish these will pay water quality dividends.