My Farm Property

A creek running through a grass field with a house, barn and livestock in the background.

The Landowner Outreach and Restoration team at Conservation Halton can provide support to agricultural landowners who are interested in projects to protect the creeks, wetlands, floodplains and other natural features on their property. Farmers and other agricultural landowners are recommended to develop an “Environmental Farm Plan,” which identifies areas of concern, strengths and opportunities and includes a timeline for improvements to be made, voluntarily. If you are interested in a site visit from a Landowner Outreach Technician to determine projects that would benefit the natural features on your property, email us at stewardship@hrca.on.ca

Livestock with access to creeks, streams, ponds, wetlands and other watercourses may cause increased amounts of nutrients to enter the water from their waste. This can also cause the banks of these watercourses to become destabilized, and result in reduced water and habitat quality. Livestock that have access to natural areas, such as forests, can reduce the opportunity for understory growth and worsen the spread of invasive species.

What you can do:

  • Relocate livestock away from sensitive areas
  • Restrict livestock from entering sensitive areas with fencing.
  • Install an alternative watering system (e.g., nose pumps, spring boxes, electric and solar pumping units) to keep livestock out of watercourses.
  • Install crossings to allow livestock to cross watercourses, without danger to them or damage to the watercourse.
  • Properly store and handle manure to prevent contamination of surface and groundwater.
  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers along the creek edge, or leave a minimum 3m planted area on either side of the creek.

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Agricultural Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

 

The nutrients found in manure make for great fertilizer but can severely impact water quality, if not handled properly. Protect water quality on your property by carefully managing manure, chemicals, and other waste.

What you can do:

  • Properly store and handle manure to prevent contamination of surface and groundwater.
  • Decommission unused storage structures that pose a risk to water quality or may interfere with groundwater.
  • Reduce contaminated runoff from manure storages by diverting rain and snow away from storage.
  • Practice responsible composting of livestock mortalities to prevent contamination of surface and groundwater.
  • Store fuel and chemicals, safely, to prevent contamination of surface and ground water, soil and air quality.

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Agricultural Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

Erosion can remove nutrient-rich topsoil and increase the amount sediment in our water. Farmers should take steps to protect their fields and preserve water and soil quality on their property.

What you can do:

  • Plant cover crops to stabilize soil and reduce erosion into watercourses, as well as manage soil fertility, soil quality, water, pests, disease, biodiversity, and wildlife, and protect groundwater by encouraging nitrogen fixation.
  • Install erosion control structures, such as grass waterways, water and sediment control basins, contour terraces, and drop inlet structures, to reduce the speed and force of water and protect surface water quality.
  • Develop a “Nutrient Management Plan” to encourage the most effective use of available nutrient resources and protect groundwater and surface water. Find more information through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.
  • Consider taking fragile land, such as croplands that are steeply sloped, lands that are prone to standing water and areas where groundwater is recharged, out of agricultural production, and plant a vegetated buffer or create a wetland instead.
  • Create or enhance your natural area through vegetation plantings, bank stabilization, watercourse channel reconstruction, wetland creation or enhancement, etc.

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Agricultural Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

Many activities can damage water quality in nearby creeks and streams, and impact downstream fish habitat and human water use.

A “riparian zone” is the vegetated area on either side of a creek, stream or drainage route to a watercourse. This area generally extends from the channel of the creek or stream to the floodplain area around it. The riparian zone functions to manage water flow, capture sediment, filter pollution and stabilize the bank as well as providing shade, food and habitat for wildlife.

Creeks and streams with little or no riparian plants can leave them vulnerable to erosion, weed infestation and poor water quality, which can negatively affect your property. Overtime, this can cause the size and shape of the channel to become widened, braided or too shallow and warm for fish and other aquatic species to live.

What you can do:

  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and groundcover suitable for wet areas
  • Leave a minimum 3m planted area on either side of the creek
  • Remove barriers, dams, culverts and debris that impede water flow

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Agricultural Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

If you are concerned about the health of a creek or stream on your property, email the Landowner Outreach and Restoration team at stewardship@hrca.on.ca

Please note that excavation, construction or other work near a creek, stream, wetland or other watercourse may be classified as “development” and may require a permit from Conservation Halton. Click here to learn more about permitting.

Usually fed by groundwater, ponds come in many shapes and sizes, and may have been created for fishing, swimming or wildlife. Overtime, ponds tend to fill in with sediment and become shallow and overgrown with marsh plants. Once a pond becomes wildlife habitat, they are difficult to alter, because they are regulated under the Conservation Authorities Act.

What you can do:

  • Plant a buffer of native trees and shrubs around the pond to filter nutrients from surface runoff and provide shade to the pond.
  • Restrict access to the pond only where needed and limit the access points to 3m wide
  • Avoid fertilizing the lawn close to the pond and avoid fertilizing when rain is in the forecast
  • Direct runoff from downspouts and pools away from the pond and allow it to infiltrate the ground
  • Use an aerator to increase dissolved oxygen to reduce algae blooms
  • Have pond water tested by public health if you use it for swimming or fishing

You can consider installing habitat features, such as:

  • Floating logs or exposed rocks that turtles can bask on
  • Turtle nest sites made up of sand, crushed stone and gravel
  • Platforms near larger ponds for birds to perch and nest
  • Wood duck boxes in and surrounding the pond for nesting
  • Submerged brush from tree pruning or a Christmas tree to protect fish, frogs and turtles from the sun and predators

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Agricultural Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

If your pond is connected to a creek or stream, you can contact us at stewardship@hrca.on.ca to discuss opportunities.

Forests are important for the health of everyone in the watershed—they remove pollution from the air, filter water before it enters our creeks, streams, river and lakes, shelter the land from wind and water erosion, provide habitat for native species of wildlife and store carbon for climate resilience.

If you have a forest or woodlot on your property, there are resources and programs to manage, maintain and enhance the health of your forest. Whether your objectives are habitat for wildlife, opportunities for recreation or income generation, there are best management practices you can implement to maximize your forest.

What you can do:

  • Expand the forested area on your property by planting native trees and shrubs.
  • Learn how to identify invasive species and remove them from your property.
  • Join the Ontario Woodlot Association to learn from other woodland owners.
  • Create a “Stewardship Plan” and you could be eligible for the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program.

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Agricultural Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

If you are interested in a project to support forest health on your property, you can get in touch with a Landowner Outreach Technician at stewardship@hrca.on.ca

If your well is unused or has been improperly filled and sealed, you should decommission it, safely, to protect the groundwater and prevent health and safety issues for yourself and others in your community. Financial assistance is available in Halton and Hamilton to help you decommission well, properly.

  • Always have wells designed, drilled and installed by a licensed well contractor.
  • Have your well tested at least three times each year, in the spring summer and fall.
  • Do not apply fertilizers or chemicals near wells, ponds or other surface water sources.

  • Have your septic tank and bed inspected to make sure that they are functioning properly.
  • Always make sure that tanks are pumped out every two to three years and keep accurate records of maintenance.
  • Have your effluent filter checked and cleaned every year. If you do not have an effluent filter, consider adding one.
  • Divert surface water away from the leaching bed of your septic system.
  • Conserve water in the house to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated.