Healthy Farms, Healthy Streams (Brochure)

Working in Balance with NatureIllustration: Brochure Cover, Healthy Farms Healthy Streams

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Also available in PDF.

Brochure also available in Punjabi.

A healthy stream is good for your farm and the environment

  1. Native plants with deep roots help stabilize the stream banks, protecting your valuable land from erosion.
  2. Covered manure piles reduce contaminated runoff, improving water quality and reducing the spread of diseases.
  3. Fencing and livestock watering stations protect streamside vegetation, bank stability and water quality by controlling animal access.
  4. Roofed above-ground fuel storage facility with concrete containment prevents contamination of groundwater.
  5. Spreading manure away from the stream, at appropriate rates and times, protects surface and groundwater.
  6. Clear-span bridges minimize impacts to the stream and do not impede drainage.
  7. Stream meanders and side channels increase the amount of water that the stream can hold during high water periods, reducing flooding.
  8. Overhanging vegetation helps shade out the growth of in-stream grasses, improving drainage.
  9. Streamside vegetation helps filter surface runoff, improving water quality.
  10. Floodplains increase the capacity of the stream to hold water during high flows, reducing flooding.

Environmental problems from an unhealthy stream can affect your land and livestock

  1. Lack of streamside vegetation leads to increased bank erosion and stream sedimentation
  2. Runoff from uncovered manure piles can contaminate water, increasing the transmission of diseases.
  3. Uncontrolled livestock access to the stream can result in bank erosion, trampling of vegetation and fouling of water quality.
  4. Improperly stored fuel, pesticides and fertilizers can leach into groundwater, contaminating wells and surface water.
  5. Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from manure can result in algae blooms, reducing water quality.
  6. Undersized culverts impede drainage, increasing upstream flooding.
  7. Straightening and dredging streams can lead to increased bank erosion and chronic sediment and drainage problems.
  8. Lack of overhanging vegetation and shade increases growth of in-stream grasses, trapping sediments and reducing drainage.
  9. Rain runoff from bark mulch and wood waste placed near the stream can contaminate surface water.
  10. Spraying pesticides near the stream, especially during windy or wet conditions, may result in contaminated surface water.

A healthy stream and riparian area are part of a healthy farm

Features of a Healthy Stream

  • Clean, cool water that is rich in oxygen
  • Streamside (riparian) vegetation to provide food, nutrients and shade to the stream
  • Plant roots to stabilize the stream banks, minimizing soil erosion
  • Pools, riffles and large woody debris provide homes for fish and insects
  • Streambeds of clean gravel and cobbles
  • Floodplains that increase the capacity of the stream to hold water during high flows

Riparian Areas Increase Bank Stability

  • Plants with deep roots bring the soil together, protecting valuable farmland from erosion.
  • Native shrubs, such as willow and red-osier dogwood, stabilize the banks yet do not shade valuable crops.

Riparian Areas Improve Water Quality

  • Streamside vegetation acts as a buffer from farm activities, reducing the amount of sediment and excess nutrients transported by runoff, improving water quality.
  • Clean water promotes increased beef and milk production and reduces the transmission of diseases.
  • Good water quality supports healthy crops and sustainable agriculture.

Riparian Areas Improve Drainage

  • Overhanging vegetation shades the stream and reduces the growth of in-stream grasses, improving draining and decreasing maintenance.
  • Improved drainage increases the productivity of farmable land and allows crops to be planted earlier in the spring.