ATHENS - The Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA) is back in business helping farmers undertake projects that benefit agricultural producers and the environment.
"The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) is delivering the Ontario portion of the new Greencover Canada program," explains CRCA Environmental Technician Holly Evans. "But conservation authorities will provide technical expertise to improve water quality, encourage sustainable land use practices, plant windbreaks, install fencing, remote watering systems and more."
OSCIA selected Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities to help deliver the program. It is part of the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan with $15 million in new funding announced Sept. 20. Cost-shared funding, possibly as much as $20,000, is available to agricultural producers for approved work.
Farmers know the value of protecting the land and water since they make their living from them, Evans notes. Financial incentives available through Greencover are the icing on the cake.
"Ontario producers with an environmental farm plan deemed appropriate through peer review can call me to get the process underway," she says. "To learn more, check our website at: www.cataraquiregion.on.ca "
Funding applications are channeled through OSCIA, but technical advice is provided by Evans. Those interested should call her at 546-4228, Ext. 244.
Working with the agricultural community is nothing new for this environmental technician.
"I’ve been involved with environmental projects on something like 40 different farms throughout our jurisdiction," says Evans.
Ask the Eyre family. Under a similar cost-share program, Evans helped Eyredale Farms Ltd. acquire a remote watering system, fence a creek and protect the environment.
The Eyres, father Lawrence and sons Dave and John, operate a 500-acre dairy farm near Athens.
"Some of our young cattle were in Foster’s Creek up to their bellies," Dave recalls.
"And, as the creek went dry and got smaller, they’d muck it up."
This was a problem for the creek while the cattle ran the risk of developing health problems.
"Cattle erode the stream banks and cause sedimentation," observes Evans. "Also they foul the stream and that may cause algal blooms and generally bad water quality."
The solution was cost-effective, simple yet elegant. She helped the Eyres acquire a remote watering system and arranged cost-shared funding. Also, the Eyres fenced the creek keeping cattle away.
The watering system is simplicity itself. A pump sits inside a 50 gallon drum in the creek. The drum has a mesh covered hole to admit water that is pumped eight feet up to a second drum on the bank. Then it feeds by gravity to a 300 gallon watering trough.
The bank barrel is equipped with a float. A float senses water is needed and triggers the pump. That is powered by a tractor battery recharged by a solar panel. The system is modeled on a boat bilge pump, but works in reverse. Bilge pumps remove water from boats; this system pumps water into a watering trough.
"It will fill that tank in about 35 minutes," Dave Eyre notes. "When it’s full, it shuts off. The beauty of it that there is really nothing that can go wrong with it."
Before Evans entered the picture, the Eyres were quoted $5,000 plus $1,000 year maintenance for a commercial system.
"So I said there’s got to be something simpler out there so I kept looking," says Dave. "I knew what I wanted, but couldn’t find it so she found it for me," he recalls.
The project cost $3,800; Evans helped the Eyres qualify for a grant for $2,850.
Today they have a remote watering system that can is installed each spring in 15 minutes.
Holly Evans, CRCA Environmental Technician
From the left: Dave, Lawrence and John Eyre and Dave’s daughter Alison, 17
For more information, contact:
Holly Evans (613) 546-4228, Ext. 244
Michael Sykes (613) 546-4228, Ext. 243