Saskatchewan has an extreme climate: summers are hot, but sometimes not, some areas are too dry or too wet, and winters can be too cold and too long.
In the eastern part of Saskatchewan, the trend has been that it’s often too wet, so in 2011 a group of farmers formed the Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association (SaskFSA) to tackle excess moisture head-on. Dale Leftwich, RealAgriculture’s Saskatchewan field editor, recently got together with Myles Thorpe, a farmer from Langenburg, SK, and president of SASKFSA, to talk about why the organization was formed, and what it hopes to achieve.
The idea for an association came from a few farmers meeting with their MLA. The MLA suggested that many farmers had the same concern and that they should work together to be more effective.
One of the main pillars of the organization is to make sure that water is managed. Thorpe says, “Our primary focus is managing your water in a sustainable way, and it is best when it is managed.” Thorpe continues, “Your land is your most valuable asset as a farmer. Without it, It doesn’t matter what kind of equipment you have, what kind of herbicides or fancy products or technology you have, if you do not have a good land base, you are not going to be a profitable farm.”
Farmers are the ones that are most directly and adversely affected by poor water management, so they are the ones who feel the greatest urgency to take action. But they are not the only ones that benefit when action is taken. Thorpe says, “A properly designed water management system will… help soil quality, if you can get the water off in the right time, It will help with flood control if you can have gates and systems set up.” Thorpe continues “there’s lot of aspects that can help the farmer, and not just the farmer, the general public as well.”
One of the things SaskFSA is trying to help the public understand is that water management is not the elimination of wetlands. It should, in fact, guarantee that wetlands exist in both wet and dry years. Thorpe explains, “In cases like this, in this field here, we can look after some of these areas behind us, if we didn’t manage them wouldn’t grow a crop and then further downstream, on the other side of the field there’s areas that we’re not going to touch.”
The SaskFSA is focused on organization, stewardship and management. It continues to promote the message that water management is good for everyone.