Improving Lake Winnipeg Water Quality

CANADA - A University of Manitoba soil scientist suggests adopting sound nutrient management principles would be more effective than the province's moratorium on hog industry expansion for addressing water quality concerns in Lake Winnipeg, according to Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 20 August 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

In 2006 the Manitoba government banned the construction of new hog barns in much of the province to reduce the level of phosphorus ending up in lake Winnipeg.

Manitoba Pork Council is expressing concern that, while hog producers have endured the economic impact of the moratorium, water quality in Lake Winnipeg continues to deteriorate.

Dr Don Flaten, a soil scientist with the University of Manitoba suggests just putting a lid on expansion is probably not a particularly effective way of managing phosphorus more carefully and believes there are more important strategies.

Dr Don Flaten-University of Manitoba

The classic principles of sound nutrient management regardless of whether it's fertilizer or manure, focus on making sure that you're putting it on at the right rate, at the right time and with the right placement.

Our current efforts working with all of the livestock producers as well as the people who apply synthetic fertilizer in the province are to make sure that we're eliminating as much as possible winter application on frozen soils or snow where the nutrients are more susceptible to being lost, making sure that we apply where ever possible underneath the soil surface through injection or incorporation so that the manure is not sitting on the surface and vulnerable to runoff and then making sure that we've got the right rate, trying to move towards balancing not only the nitrogen application with the requirement for the crop but also making sure that we don't apply more phosphorus than what the crop is going to remove.

It's this latter one that's probably the biggest challenge that we're trying to work with, is getting the phosphorus balance right because the phosphorus nitrogen mix in the manure is just not the same as what crops require.

Dr Flaten suggests the principles of sound nutrient management, including putting manure on at the right rate, at the right place, at the right time, should play prominently in any relaxation of the moratorium.

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