Crop losses, property damage, and AgriRecovery claims have surged through the Assiniboine River Basin in recent years thanks to flooding issues— and Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA) is addressing this with a new project.

With the help of more than a million dollars from Growing Forward Two, MFGA is developing a hydrology model for the basin. The goal of this project is to reduce the impact of extreme flood or drought events for the agricultural industry within the basin by identifying preventative measures and implementing risk prevention and mitigation activities.

"It's both flooding and drought that we're hoping to be able to get a better handle on through the use of this model," MFGA vice-chair Henry Nelson stresses. "One of the first things we're looking at in this is the impact that forages and grasslands have in mitigating both flooding and drought."

Once complete, Nelson says the model could be used not only to identify cause and effect of droughts and flooding, but also as a cost-effective way to predict the outcome of mitigation strategies.

"Because (the model) is physics based, you can do what-if scenarios," he says. "You can say, what if we had a different infrastructure here — i.e. a dyke here or a ditch here and so on. Or, if we had different vegetation, if we had forages and grasslands here instead of what we have there now, what would be the impacts?"

Based on this model, a web-based tool will be developed that farmers can use to gather information on their farmland to help effectively manage moisture levels and mitigate risk associated with drought and flooding.

According to an MFGA press release, the organization began the project in March, and will be completed by March 2018.

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