Hedgerows, hillsides too steep for tractors to climb and even grassy margins along fencelines serve as havens for beneficial insects and birds that play a pivotal role in pest control. Since the dust bowl days of the 1930s, shelterbelts composed of trees and mixed vegetation have mitigated soil erosion by wind and water. More recently, research has been carried out to assess the additional benefits such uncropped land may provide.
It has become commonplace to see farm equipment at work between power poles and in ditches where fences have been removed so the 66-foot public right-of-way can be cropped. Dubbed “trespass farming,” Alberta counties have the authority to hand out fines where this illegal practice occurs. Among its range of detrimental effects is negative impacts on game birds.
The release of the Wetland Inventory and Advanced Landcover Prediction and Habitat Assessment last spring has introduced a significant upgrade to the tracking of Alberta’s wetlands. In part, the ongoing project identifies and categorizes the province’s stock of marshes, swamps, bogs, fens and open water bodies that are 400 square metres or larger in size.