Research Project

On-farm Livestock Water Remediation Using Native Wetland Plants and Alberta Cold Climate Floating Island Technology

“This project will provide producers with an additional low cost, low maintenance, efficient, sustainable tool to
protect the water, soil, and air through the remediation of contaminated feedlot runoff waters that can then be safely used for irrigation and potentially for livestock drinking water”.

How will this research help increase the competitiveness and profitability of Alberta’s agriculture industry?

Contamination of surface water and groundwater from nutrient loading is a critical problem within agriculture and urban areas across Alberta and Canada. Although past research has proven that wetland plants are effective in capturing nutrients to effectively clean water while harvesting off the vegetation for other productive uses such as compost for soil remediation, there is a lack of critical information to successfully carry out water remediation using native wetland plants.

The proposed project will build on knowledge generated from previous work at Olds College on the quantification of nutrient and contaminant uptake by native wetland plants used to treat feedlot runoff water in controlled environment conditions. This research project will allow producers to reuse runoff water for irrigation and/or livestock drinking water while minimizing risks associated with groundwater contamination, nutrient deposition or algae toxicity.

Why did RDAR invest in this research project?

This project lends itself well to the ongoing Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) objectives. The CRSB is focused on production
practices that are socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound, prioritizing the Planet, People, Animals and Progress. In terms of environmental effects of beef production, the impact on water consumption and quality comes second only to GHG production for top priority.

This project would provide a low-cost, easily adaptable method for reducing the nutrient load in feedlot runoff and (depending on the effectiveness of the remediation) could offer an alternative watering source for livestock. This project will demonstrate an additional option for producers to adopt in order to reduce the environmental footprint of their beef operations through water remediation.

How will this project and its knowledge be transferred and shared with producers?

Information, lessons learned, and findings throughout this project will be communicated via: Project updates and factsheets posted to Olds College website and social media channels, updated quarterly. On-site field tours of all four sites annually in year 2 and year 3 of the project. Educational sessions and hands-on demonstrations at AgSmart expo in 2021 and 2022