Posted by: Vicki Burns | September 13, 2011

Lessons for Manitoba’s Water Woes – Keeping Water, Sediment and Nutrients on the Land – How One Farmer is Doing It

Here is an inspiring story about a farmer, Bruce Tiffany, in Minnesota whose attitude is “If you won’t swim in it, you can do better”. He is referring to the run-off from his land. He is employing a number of different practices to slow and filter the water that falls on his land, some of which eventually runs off into the local streams.
Bruce’s efforts are partly in response to new information that is tying agricultural practices to dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico due to excess nitrates flowing down the Mississippi River. It’s not only agricultural practices but what is coming from towns and cities that is contributing to the problem and Minnesotans are looking at a variety of ways to change this.
Ground Level – Cleaning Minnesota’s Water is a website that is dedicated to telling individual stories of various projects that are going on to better manage the excess of water, sediments and nutrients that are affecting Minnesota and then downstream jurisdictions. It’s full of interesting examples.

image of Lake winnipeg taken from space

Recent satellite image of Lake Winnipeg showing huge blue-green algae bloom, courtesy of the LWRC

In Manitoba we’re in the midst of a very public dispute between hog producers and some other types of farmers and the government over the issue of who is to blame for the excess nutrients getting into Lake Winnipeg and other water bodies. Once again Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world, has a very large blue-green algae bloom covering much of the north basin of the lake. It’s too bad that finger pointing about blame is taking all the attention here, instead of everyone, rural or urban, doing their part to fix this problem.



  1. I had thought that there were regulations about when farmers could spread manure on their fields. Is it not in the spring after the floods? Already I have seen a small field absolutely loaded down and if it isn’t dug in soon it will be the first to be washed into the ditches en route to the Lake. This spring there was an editorial by a farmer in the WFP who complained that all of his $23,000 worth of fertiliser had ‘dissappeared’ with the floods and we all know where that went! He was trying to get headstart on his 2011 spring planting.
    What are the regulations and is any “one” checking date wise on what farmers are doing. It is the common good here, not an individual decision.

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