The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), in partnership with local municipalities, supports farmers who want to help improve and protect water quality in the Grand River watershed. The GRCA’s Rural Water Quality Program (RWQP), funded by Wellington, Brant, Oxford, Haldimand and Dufferin counties, and the Region of Waterloo, supports projects that help producers make their farms more resilient, while helping improve downstream water quality.
In 2021, landowners across the watershed completed water quality improvement projects with a capital value of almost $3.7 million. Over $846,000 grants from municipal, federal and private donations were delivered through the RWQP to help offset the cost of 164 projects, including:
- tree planting projects to establish windbreaks and stream buffers
- well upgrades and plugging of unused wells to protect groundwater
- manure storage facility upgrades to effectively manage nutrients and avoid winter spreading
- erosion control structures and cover crops to protect soil from wind and water erosion
- crop nutrient plans
Jeff Holmes operates a farm in the headwaters of the Grand River watershed, near Orangeville, and has participated in the cover crop category of the Dufferin RWQP. Cover crops have now become a standard practice in his operation.
“We have found benefits to our operation in terms of increased production and reduced tillage operations. Cover crops help scavenge nutrients from last year’s crop and keep them in the soil where they feed the current crop. Also, cover crops help us improve soil health by increasing soil organic matter, which then improves water holding capacity and soil structure. These benefits make the soil more resilient and support better crop production in a changing climate,” said Holmes.