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Farmland makes up nearly 50% of the Kawartha watershed, and is particularly important in sustaining our rural communities, with agriculture and healthy lakes being the two pillars of our vibrant local economy. Farms can have a significant impact and benefits on watershed health, and how you manage your farm can make a big difference. Soil management and lake management have the same goals – keep the nutrients and soil particles on the land and out of the water. There are many benefits to using best management practices:

  • Healthy soils and long term productivity
  • Reduced nutrient and soil loss
  • Fewer sediments and contaminants entering waterways
  • Clean drinking water for more productive livestock and fewer veterinarian costs
  • Replenishment of groundwater acquirers
  • A biodiverse, resilient ecosystem that provides habitat for pollinators and song birds - being important for integrated pest management.

What actions can I take?

Prevent erosion:

  • Ensure drainage is designed to effectively move water off the land without soil and nutrient loss
  • Establish healthy riparian buffer zones next to waterways
  • Improve stream crossings for livestock and equipment
  • Design wind breaks and shelter belts to effectively minimize wind erosion and provide shelter to farm buildings and livestock yards
  • Stabilize gullies and water course banks

Control nutrients:

  • Develop nutrient management plans
  • Modify agricultural equipment to improve manure application
  • Incorporate manure into the soil quickly; do not apply it on frozen ground
  • Manage runoff from manure storage facilities and livestock yards

Protect and manage soils at risk:

  • Establish forage or annual barriers for soils at risk (e.g. contour cropping, grassed waterways, perennial forages on severely erodible or saline soils)
  • Rotational livestock grazing in critical erosion areas or other sensitive sites
  • Use straw mulch to help establish permanent forage
  • Establish non-harvested, non-grazed cover crops
  • Consider retiring marginal lands by tree planting

Protect woodlots, streams, and wetlands:

  • Retain wetlands for a variety of uses – recharging ground water/aquifers, filtering surface water, pollinator habitat
  • Use selective harvesting of trees to promote long term sustainability of woodlands and periodic income from harvest
  • Keep livestock out of waterways
  • Provide alternative water systems for livestock

Additional Resources



We can help

Knowledgeable staff can help you take action!

  • Not sure where to start? Schedule a free onsite consultation and receive personalized advice for enhancing your properties and protecting water quality.
  • For training opportunities and workshops, please see our events page for current listings.

Programs and Services

Access programs and services to help you take action:

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 Seedling Program
Purchase native trees, shrubs, and grasses for your projects 



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 Scugog WATER Fund
Apply for a grant to help with projects on your property in Durham Region within the Kawartha Watershed


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 Kawartha Lakes Farmland Stewardship Fund
Apply for a grant to help with projects on your property within the City of Kawartha Lakes




 Native Plant Distribution Program

Learn more about the Native Plant Distribution Program.