Bras d'Henri and Fourchette Watersheds

The WEBs study took place within two sets of twin micro-watersheds (approximately 300 hectares each); one pair in the Bras d'Henri Watershed (map below) and the second pair in the Fourchette Watershed. See map.

The Bras d'Henri River which drains a 150-square-kilometre area, originates in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and flows through the fertile St Lawrence Lowlands within the Beaurivage sub-watershed of the Chaudière River. This sub-watershed supports one of the highest concentrations of animal production in Quebec and nearly two-thirds of the area is cultivated.

The Fourchette feeder is part of the Le Bras Watershed (drainage area 222 square kilometres), a tributary of the Etchemin River. Water quality within the Etchemin River ranks as the second poorest in Quebec in terms of its phosphorus load.

The Bras d'Henri and Fourchette watersheds are a rich source of existing water quality, soil quality and agricultural management data. Water quality monitoring has been conducted in the Bras d'Henri River since 1988, with hydrometric measurements taken since 1972. Expertise in hydrologic modelling and cost-benefit studies of surface and sub-surface drainage practices at the sub-watershed level dates back to 1995. A team of federal, provincial and university researchers exists in the region.

The selection of the Bras d'Henri intervention and control micro-watersheds was based on a comparison of hydrological and geophysical parameters, including topography, land use and pedology.

The Fourchette twin watersheds study, administered by the Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment (IRDA), has been underway since 2001. It has established a significant relationship in the export of non-point source sediments and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from the two micro-watersheds. As an established watershed study, with a very similar mandate to that of the Bras d'Henri WEBs project, it was logical for the two studies to be linked together. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) managed the Bras d'Henri project and IRDA continues to manage the Fourchette project.

Four BMPs were studied within the Bras d’Henri and Fourchette Watersheds as follows:

  • Surface runoff control
  • Crop rotation
  • Hog slurry management
  • Reduced herbicide use

The Factors Affecting the Adoption of Agricultural Beneficial Management Practices fact sheet describes study findings regarding the factors that may affect producers' likelihood of adopting certain BMPs.

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