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Four-part webinar series takes tile drainage education into the digital age

A recent educational effort by Agriculture Manitoba and the Red River Basin Commission means farmers are staying home to take in information on tile drainage

Manitoba Agriculture and the Red River Basin Commission have taken to the web on tile drainage.

A series of four webinars is running until March 18, with topics spanning the on-farm benefits, downstream implications, environmental concerns and government considerations of tile drainage.

“It’s established in other places, such as south of the border, but here it’s fairly new in terms of number of acres where it’s been adopted and also a new topic, I suppose, for a lot of people,” said Mitchell Timmerman, agri-ecosystems specialist with the province and one of the webinars’ presenters.

A joint project between the province, Assiniboine River Basin Initiative, five conservation districts and sponsored by north and south chapters of the Red River Basin Commission, the series launched Feb. 21 with “What Does Tile Do For My Crops,” a look at the draws of the practice, including yield impacts, agronomic benefits and water balance.

Webinars later turned to effects on the watershed, concerns, and best management practices such as drainage gates, effective nutrient management, tillage, use of bioreactors such as a barrier of buried wood chips and constructed wetlands to mitigate nutrient loss.

“It’s all about the specifics. Site-specific conditions are critically important, so even though, like with other practices, even though we can say, ‘Tile drainage can work,’ it will be a question of whether it will have a fit for an individual farm or field,” Timmerman said. “And even though we’re not spending a lot of time talking about it, the economics are a huge factor in farmers’ ability to adopt the practice.”

Timmerman said he was unsure of attendance during latter webinars, although the first of the series had registrations in the triple digits.

Initial sessions have since been posted to YouTube, and can be accessed from the RRBC Winnipeg account.

The final presentation, “Policy and Local Government Considerations,” is set for Mar. 15, 2:30-3:30 p.m. and will cover tile drainage from the perspective of municipalities, local and provincial policy and existing case studies.

Registration is available at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4399879777355234818.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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