South Tobacco Creek/Steppler Watershed
The 206-hectare Steppler Watershed is contained within a single farm operation and is located near Miami, Manitoba, approximately 150 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. It is a sub-watershed of the South Tobacco Creek Watershed, a site that has been the focus of scientific studies and research projects for more than 20 years, and has had a runoff/water sampling infrastructure since the early 1990s. See map.
The South Tobacco Creek Watershed is situated on the edge of the Manitoba Escarpment such that the elevation drops nearly 60 metres in less than three kilometres. Soils are primarily clay loams formed on moderately to strongly calcareous glacial till which overlays shale bedrock. Land use within the watershed is agricultural, with the majority of the land under annual cropping. Average annual precipitation is about 550 millimetres, of which approximately one-quarter falls as snow.
The Steppler Watershed is in the headwaters of the South Tobacco Creek above the Manitoba Escarpment. The South Tobacco Creek drains into the Morris River, and eventually into the Red River, which then flows north into Lake Winnipeg. Due to water quality concerns, the Government of Manitoba has committed to reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering Lake Winnipeg to pre-1970 levels. Much of this reduction must come from non-point sources upstream in the watershed. Effective BMP validation may have a significant impact on where and how efforts to reduce this loading should be focused.
Five BMPs were studied within the South Tobacco Creek Watershed as follows:
- Winter bale-grazing
- Holding pond downstream of a winter cattle containment area
- Comparison of conservation and conventional tillage
- Small dams and reservoirs
- The conversion of annual cropland to perennial forage
Three fact sheets have been developed based on the methods and findings of the South Tobacco Creek WEBs project:
- The Tillage Trade-offs in a Prairie Watershed fact sheet discusses biophysical and economic findings from a long-term comparison of conservation tillage with conventional tillage.
- The Positive Effects of Small Dams and Reservoirs fact sheet discusses the biophysical and the economic findings of a study into the effects of small on-farm earthen dams and reservoirs.
- The Effect of Multiple BMPs on Water Quality and Runoff fact sheet summarizes findings from a long-term study on the cumulative effects of multiple BMPs.
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