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Water management research focus of symposium

March 4, 2015  By Dave Harrison

Special awards were given to a number of presenters, including Dr. Ann Huber of Soil Resource Group; Ian Nichols of Weather INnovations Consulting; Hajnal Kovacs from the Grand River Conservation Authority; and Dr. Jeanine West of Phytoserv and Flowers Canada Ontario. Absent: Julie Sylvestre, Dr. Laura Van Eerd.

March 4, 2015, Guelph, Ont. – There was a steady stream of new ideas discussed yesterday at a major farm water management conference.

And the take-home message? Ontario farmers can save big with new water management systems and programs.

The Water Conservation and Efficiency in Ontario Agriculture: The Water Adaptation Management and Quality Initiative (WAMQI) Results Symposium was hosted by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Some 80 farmers and industry specialists attended the daylong event.


“Like many environmental challenges facing farmers today,” noted the sponsors, “there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving on-farm water management or nutrient use practices. Every farm and associated watershed is unique.”

WAMQI, funded under the Growing Forward 2 program, is a follow-up program to 2013’s Water Resource Adaptation and Management Initiative (WRAMI) project, which received funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The objectives of both programs are to help Ontario farmers:

• Adopt water conservation and efficiency practices to address issues of managing the water supply.

• Prepare for extreme or damaging weather events and adapt to the impacts of climate change through the development of resilient farm practices.

• Better manage nutrients and minimize off-site impacts of nutrients on surface and groundwater quality.

Of last year’s 26 research projects, five were focused on greenhouse applications. They included:

• Advanced oxidation processes for the treatment of organics in recirculated greenhouse nutrient feed water.

• Assessment and management of horticultural stormwater discharges.

• Evaluation of denitrification bioreactors and constructed wetlands under Ontario conditions.

• Evaluation of land application of greenhouse wastewater in field vegetable production.

• Process water recycle and reuse circuit for the Ontario greenhouse industry using ENPAR’s ESD capacitive deionization technology.


“Caring for Ontario’s Land and Water Awards” were presented to six WAMQI project leaders for their ongoing commitments to protecting Ontario’s water resources and for their demonstrated environmental stewardship. The awards were divided into three categories with winners as follows:

• Community efforts  In support of water stewardship: Hajnal Kovacs – Grand River Conservation Authority; Julie Sylvestre – Algonquin College.
• Commodity support for water and nutrient use improvement: Dr. Ann Huber – Soil Resource Group; Dr. Jeanine West – Phytoserv.
• Technologies supporting efficient water and nutrient use efficiency: Ian Nichols – Win Weather INnovations; Dr. Laura Van Eerd – University of Guelph.

“All projects have made significant contributions to conserving Ontario’s land and water,” said  Bruce Kelly, Farm & Food Care’s environmental program manager in handing out the plaques. “These six, however, were chosen for their extra commitments to the program.”

Dr. Jeanine West, upon receiving her award, said that it recognizes the great partners she’s worked with through the WAMQI initiative. “By working together, farmers, researchers, consultants and government have achieved some really significant and sustainable results in water and nutrient management.”

Full project reports are posted at

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