GFM Network News


Algal blooms are nothing new on Lake Winnipeg. But what’s causing them is a very complex, multi-jurisdictional problem.

Getting phosphorus out of Lake Winnipeg and onto fields

Manitoba’s agriculture needs and waterways are on opposite sides of the phosphorus debate — or are they?

Lake Winnipeg might be drowning in phosphorus, but plenty of soils in the province are gasping for it. Lake Winnipeg has become infamous for its water quality, and not in a good way. Algal blooms and E. coli cases have become a familiar state of affairs in the south basin, while over half of samples

Manitoba farmers, particularly the hog industry, are often blamed for water quality issues on Lake Winnipeg, but the truth is the problem is complex and multi-jurisdictional.

The problem with phosphorus

Lake Winnipeg is suffering from phosphorus overload, but agriculture is just one contributor

Lake Winnipeg has a phosphorus problem. That’s not a controversial statement. But what can spark plenty of arguments is just what’s causing the problem. One of the handiest targets has long been local agriculture in general, and the province’s hog sector in particular. The hog sector and provincial government both claim the sector faces some


A map shows the distribution of manure-rich cultivated areas. The green spots demonstrate the areas with the most potential for phosphorus recycling.

Manure map raises recycling hopes

A study shows potential for farmers to reclaim phosphorus fertilizer

A New Jersey university is mapping the world’s manure in an effort to jump-start a movement to recycle phosphorus. In the April 2019 issue of Earth’s Future, a research team from Stevens Institute of Technology mapped the journey of phosphorus from soil to crops, to livestock and humans, and eventually into sewers and landfills. This

A photo taken by a drone of lake 227 at IISD Experimental Lakes Area where the experiment on eutrophication has been taking place since 1969.

Nitrogen reduction not the path

Reducing how much nitrogen enters a lake has little impact on algal blooms, IISD researchers say

If you take the nitrogen out of the equation for lake algal blooms it turns out you really haven’t changed things at all. According to researchers at the Experimental Lakes Area, operated by Winnipeg’s International Institute for Sustainable Development, that’s because many of the algae responsible for the harmful blooms can turn around and fix

Ramping up phosphorus for alfalfa

Building soil phosphorus when fertilizer prices are lower may have big impacts for future profit, 
tour attendees heard Aug. 30 at the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives Brookdale site

Producers got a side-by-side comparison of different phosphorus treatments in alfalfa Aug. 30. The phosphorus ramp, presented during the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives (MBFI) Brookdale field tour, showcased consecutive strips of alfalfa grown with progressively more phosphorus. The ramp tracks crop impact in the three years following a one-time phosphorus application ranging from no



Editorial: Pigs and protests

Any changes to the rules governing the operation, permitting or construction of hog barns in Manitoba are always going to be controversial. This is a well-worn debate with both sides set to battle over perceived risks to the environment or the industry, depending on the advocate’s point of view. What is a little surprising is

Lake Erie plan’s farming recommendations released

A federal/provincial action plan to reduce phosphorus loading in Lake Erie has been released for public comment — and many of its recommendations will have implications for farmers in the Lake Erie basin. None of the numerous recommendations are particularly new or surprising and mostly call for using existing funding programs to encourage certain production



An Alberta Agriculture and Forestry employee samples a creek to help determine if BMPs are improving water quality.

New tool for managing nutrient run-off

Free downloadable tool for assessing phosphorus run-off risk and creating a 
customized mitigation plan will be available this spring

As more and more farmers, politicians and laypeople are coming to understand, nutrient run-off from farm fields into waterways is a very big deal. When not managed properly, nutrients from fertilizer and manure make their way into creeks, lakes, dugouts, and other water bodies. But a new tool to help mitigate phosphorus run-off risk will