Farming experts say moisture in Lethbridge area offering some relief from wind erosion

Click to play video: 'Wind erosion impacting southern Alberta farmland' Wind erosion impacting southern Alberta farmland
WATCH ABOVE: While some rain arrived in southern Alberta this week, the high spring winds and dry conditions have already taken a toll. Eloise Therien looks into why soil erosion is a concern, and if the recent moisture is any help following seeding. – May 20, 2022

Dry and windy conditions in the Lethbridge area have been posing some challenges for the county and area farmers.

Experts say unusually strong spring gusts have contributed to sandblasting of emerging seedlings and loss of topsoil.

“Until you get that first good rain every year, the soil can be more susceptible to erosion,” Rob Dunn, the owner of FarmWise Inc., said Friday morning.

“We’ve been kind of waiting for this first rain to kind of settle the very surface — in a way it kind of cements those soil particles together.”

That rain came earlier this week, but it won’t be enough to make a huge impact.

Read more: 2022 spring seeding in full swing across southern Alberta

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“We were kind of hoping to get about, you know, 15 to 20 or 25 millimetres,” Dunn said.

“I think most areas probably got close to 10 millimetres, and there were probably some areas that only got about five millimetres.”

Tory Campbell, the reeve for Lethbridge County, has seen the impact of dry and windy conditions on both farmers and residents.

He said it makes road maintenance more challenging, among other things.

“I think the biggest thing we see is that deposition of eroded soil in ditches, and that has a lot of implications for when moisture does show up,” Campbell said.

“Culverts are plugged, water isn’t able to move the the way it should through the waterways. So yes, that is something that we identify and crews are out managing that.”

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‘We’re stable’: Farm Credit Canada reports modest land value increases in Alberta – Mar 17, 2022

In order to mitigate soil erosion, many dryland farmers opt for no-till farming.

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Gurbir Dhillon, a research scientist with Farming Smarter, said this method has become more widely-used and can offer some protection.

“Since it leaves the residue, it is able to anchor the soil — hold the soil,” he explained. “Also the windspeed at the surface of the soil is decreased due to the residue. So it not only helps hold the soil but also reduces the force of the wind.”

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