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Friday, 19 October 2012 08:43

County of Lethbridge hosts informative ag tour

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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Barry Olson with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development reads a brief explanation of the        Livestock Manure Impacts on Groundwater Quality in Alberta. Barry Olson with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development reads a brief explanation of the Livestock Manure Impacts on Groundwater Quality in Alberta. Photo by Stephanie Labbe

The County of Lethbridge has been doing agriculture tours for at least six years on either sustainable agriculture or beneficial management practice.

The reason the tours started was to showcase the beneficial management practices farmers are undertaking on their farms to help alleviate the nutrient footprint.
“Because we’re an intensive livestock area here, we have that nutrient footprint, so they’re (the farmers) just helping to alleviate that footprint on their farms, because they know that’s a detriment to society (and) to our environment,” says Dwayne Rogness, the rural extension specialist at the County of Lethbridge.
Rogness was in charge of the morning part of the most recent tour which took place the beginning of October. It made stops at two farms with a new liquid manure separator and one with a manure composter. Other stops in the morning included a presentation and viewing at Watershed Evaluation of Beneficial (WEB) management practices project in the Lower Little Bow research site and a demonstration of electro shocking fish counting at an area feedlot.  
Every stop included a summary of what was being featured on the stop and a question period for the people attending. Both manure separators were new and had only been running a short time and there was a lot of information for participants.
Every year about 40 people attend the tour. Rogness was pleased with the number of attendees this year on Oct. 3 which included some from the Picture Butte area.
Rogness explains the way he deems the tour successful is if he knows people learned something. He was receiving several compliments on how much people had already learned just from the morning portion.
“If folks are learning, that’s all that counts ... because the tour from last year helped expose people to the solid liquid separator. Now we have a couple more guys on board with them. It’s just word-of-mouth and then you can find out what practices are actually working and then you can kick out the ones that don’t work so much,” says Rogness.
The number of farmers in the County of Lethbridge have pretty much stayed the same over the years, says Rogness. With higher land prices, there hasn’t been a lot of turnover in producers.
“We have not lost a lot of producers here. Now, probably in the outlying areas in more of the dryland areas you do lose a lot of people ... but here we are pretty much staying the same. It’s status-quo for sure,” adds Rogness.
The County has noticed most farms in the area are multi-generational. Once the parents feel they can’t run the farm anymore, they pass it onto their children.
There have been more and more people coming into the area from Holland and they are bringing with them their agriculture practices.
Rogness explains he tries to make the tour different every year, with new stops. Sometimes it’s the same kind of beneficial management practices (BMPs) to view, but in a different situation.
Every year, Rogness would love to see more people attending so he encourages people to spread the word about it.
“Talk to your neighbours that have been on the tour ... come talk to me, I’m easy to get a hold of. I work at the County of Lethbridge in the Lethbridge office there,” says Rogness. “I would say that word of mouth is the key thing. I know we get it out onto the TV as well. So, people can see what’s working there ... and I do a lot of public speaking and stuff like that for people.”
He adds he speaks to a lot of 4-H and dairy groups.
The afternoon part of the tour consisted of three stops, all in conjunction with a livestock manure impacts on groundwater quality in Alberta project. This project is being worked on until 2015. 
The study area shown during the tour included three different sites in the Battersea area and the researchers are comparing their results to studies done in this area from 1994-2001.
At every stop in the afternoon, there were three to five speakers who shared knowledge of the specific site and explained what tools are being used in the project.
The tour was free to attend. It took everyone on a bus to each stop.
At noon, lunch was provided for everyone and door prizes were handed out throughout the day.
For anyone interested in the tour or would like more information on it contact Dwayne Rogness at 403-380-1598 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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