SK Drainage Extension Network (SK DEN)

Saskatchewan Drainage Extension Network (SK DEN)

Connecting landowners, agricultural organizations, industry, researchers and government to share and build knowledge on innovative and responsible water management practices in support of support soil health, resilient crop production and healthy working landscapes in Saskatchewan.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES:

  • Promote partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders interested in agriculture water management research, drainage management innovation and beneficial management practices (BMPs).
  • Maximize the efficiency, viability and reliability of food production acres including rehabilitation of marginal acres lost to excess water and salinity, through field scale drainage research.
  • Innovate and expand drainage management, focused on agronomic and environmental benefits to support smart policy development.
  • Develop a Saskatchewan agriculture water management extension program and information hub for both drainage and irrigation – specifically demonstration sites, field events and educational materials.
  • Create and share science centered information to increase public trust in land and water management in SK.

Agriculture water management is a critical business risk management tool and an important climate resiliency strategy for Saskatchewan producers. This network is a research and education platform to foster relationships, collaboration and communication to change the narrative of drainage in Saskatchewan.


BACKGROUND

Saskatchewan has an important role to play in global food production and food security. Land use facts:

  • Saskatchewan hosts 43% of Canadian farmland (1) 
  • Saskatchewan’s land base is 161 M acres
  • ~20% of those acres are annual crop production (2) 
  • ~10% are tame and native forage acres (3)
  • ~20% are fresh water acres (rivers, lakes), provincial conservation areas and parks (4) 
References: 1- Statistics Canada, 2- Crop Production – Saskatchewan’s Dashboard, 3- SK Government, 4- SK Ministry of Environment and Water Security Agency

 

These agriculture acres or “agriculture zones” are vital for food production. They are also well balanced by the 20% of fresh water acres and conservation. It is important to note that this 20% does not include private conservation lands or the wetland and upland habitat that ag producers host. The remaining land use is home to forestry, mining, oil and gas, other important industries in the province as well as indigenous, urban and rural land uses.

Besides land, water is the next most critical factor that drives agriculture production. 

Soil zone, topography and climatic zones fluctuate across the province and dictate where the productive “agriculture zones” are. These regional differences require flexibility for beneficial management practices and agriculture water management policy implementation. 

When it comes to water, the most vulnerable areas (Figure 1) require the most management. 

Figure 1: Agriculture zone illustration – Productive AG zones are determined by soil type, climatic zone and topography.

 

Improving “field efficiency” within the ag zone refers to responsible drainage of excess temporary and seasonal field water to improve field agronomics and reduce environmental impacts – such as improved soil health (reduced compaction and salinity, healthy microbes), protection of crop health (less stress and disease), reduced overland flooding and nutrient washouts (minimize fill and spill scenarios), reduced crop loss, reduced overlap and nutrient loading, reduced emissions and a reduced carbon footprint. If you improve your field efficiency rating, you improve your agronomics and environmental stewardship.

Responsible water management (both drainage and irrigation) have a fundamental role to play in managing and improving soil health to support reliable food production, reducing the impacts of extreme weather events and contributing to agri-environmental innovations. Responsible drainage is one of the most effective ways to reduce vulnerability in watersheds, rural communities and our provincial and US neighbors. Collaboration within the province and across our borders will benefit everyone, now, and for generations to come.

 


PARTNERS

  • Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association (SaskFSA)
  • Agriculture Producers of Saskatchewan (APAS)
  • Crop Intelligence
  • Croptimistic Technology (SWATMAPS)
  • Irrigation Saskatchewan
  • Precision Drainage Solutions
  • Saskatchewan Conservation and Development Association (SCDA)
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic
  • Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat) 
 

STRATEGIC ADVISORS

  • Water Security Agency – Ag Water Management 
  • Water Security Agency – Irrigation and Economic Development
  • Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario (LICO)
 

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