The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority has opened a new trail for the public to learn more about best management practices in the farming community.
LTVCA is currently developing an 80-acre farm demonstration site at the Walter Devereux Conservation Area in Ridgetown, with financial support from both Union Gas and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
Manager of Conservation, Lands, and Services at LTVCA Randall Van Wagner says Union Gas has donated $7,500 and OMAFRA has contributed $15,000 towards the project.
The conservation authority unveiled a brand new trail at the property on Wednesday to show off the up and coming farm demonstration site.
"We have a 2.5 km trail and there's signage throughout. Every 50 m or so, someone can learn about one of these different best management practices," says Van Wagner.
Cover crops, soil management, windbreaks, forest products, selective harvesting, bio fuel and uses for tall grass prairie are examples of best management practices that can be learned about on the trail.
Van Wagner says the trail is intended to be self-guided, but educational tours will be held for different schools and farming groups in the area.
"We've owned this property since 1978 but it's kind of been hidden here. We wanted to recreate the parking lot and make it more accessible to the general public. The property itself is really a working property. We make money on this, we have a farm that we lease out, we selectively log the forest, and we have tall grass prairie that we harvest every year," says Van Wagner.
Van Wagner says another reason the LTVCA created the trail is to demonstrate ways to mitigate water runoff into the municipality's rivers and lakes.
"Cover crops and prairie buffers are best management practices that are proven to hold the soil on the land and stop it from being run-off into our creeks and streams. Eventually that water ends up in Lake Erie and that's how we end up with algae blooms and problems with water quality," he explains.
The entrance to the trail is located inside the Walter Devereux Conservation Area at 13016 McLarty Line in Ridgetown.
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