Participants in an April 26 tour of the Milk River region explored the mouth of the so-called irrigation “Spite Ditch” developed in the early 1900s.  |  Barb Glen photo

Spite leads to international water agreement

Southern Alberta canal was accused at the time of ‘lacking in friendlyness,’ but a friendlier mood eventually prevailed

MILK RIVER, Alta. — The southern Alberta prairie is gradually reclaiming a humble-looking trench built more than 100 years ago to ensure farmers in the Milk River region were able to draw water and irrigate their land. At the time, its construction created an international incident but it ultimately led to a long-standing historical agreement […] Read more

The recent transfers include five-year funding arrangements through the irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation program.  |  File photo

Irrigation asset transfer completed in Sask.

The contentious initiative moves about 90 percent of irrigation assets previously owned by the province into the hands of district irrigators

The Saskatchewan government and four irrigation districts have completed asset transfers and agreed to infrastructure funding arrangements. The deal moves about 90 percent of provincial irrigation assets into the hands of the district irrigators, said deputy agriculture minister Rick Burton. The transfer has been contentious at times because irrigators said they didn’t want assets that […] Read more

The Saskatchewan government and four irrigation districts have completed asset transfers and agreed to infrastructure funding arrangements. | File photo

Irrigation transfer completed in Sask.

The Saskatchewan government and four irrigation districts have completed asset transfers and agreed to infrastructure funding arrangements. The deal moves about 90 percent of provincial irrigation assets into the hands of the district irrigators, said deputy agriculture minister Rick Burton. The transfer has been contentious at times because irrigators said they didn’t want assets that […] Read more


Irrigation specialists say new pipes and pivots through efficiency programs are helping southern Alberta producers lower costs and conserve more water. | File photo

Irrigation efficiency pays in Alta.

Irrigation specialists say new pipes and pivots through efficiency programs are helping southern Alberta producers lower costs and conserve more water. One of the newer initiatives, called the Irrigation Efficiency Program, has already been showing results, said Brad Calder, a soil and water technologist with Alberta Agriculture’s irrigation section. “We’ve had a fair number of […] Read more

The Saskatchewan Irrigation Projects Association argues it will be hard for irrigators to be solely responsible for equipment such as pumps, lifts and canals.  |  File photo

Irrigation transfer still alarming producers

Legislation has been introduced to allow the Saskatchewan government to hand over assets to to irrigation districts

The pending transfer of irrigation assets from the Saskatchewan government to districts continues to concern farmers who say they face huge costs because the infrastructure is in poor repair. One estimate has pegged rehabilitation costs at $350 million. The province has wanted to transfer equipment such as pumps, lifts and smaller canals to the districts […] Read more


A civil engineer says irrigation hasn’t expanded much in Saskatchewan beyond the initial agreement in the 1960s when the Gardiner Dam was built and Lake Diefenbaker formed.  |  File photo

Irrigation infrastructure expansion urged

Saskatchewan is encouraged to use money available through the federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation fund

An advocate of developing Saskatchewan’s water resources says the province would do well to access a federal fund and start building water infrastructure. Wayne Clifton, senior principal at Clifton Associates, said money available through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation fund could be used to further develop infrastructure around Lake Diefenbaker. As a civil engineer for […] Read more

Peter Fehr stands with his new irrigation system on his farm near La Crete, Alta. | Photo supplied by Peter Fehr

Alberta Farmer’s irrigation dreams come true

For almost all the 38 years Peter Fehr has farmed, he’s dreamed of having an irrigation system. He has been dealing with dry conditions up in the northern Peace area of La Crete, Alta., and would love to see a boost in yield. “I’ve always had irrigation in the back of my mind,” said Fehr, […] Read more

Mountain snowpack is an important water source for Alberta’s irrigators.  |  File photo

Plentiful mountain snowpack bodes well for Alta. irrigators

Snow accumulation along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains appears to bode well for runoff and the coming irrigation season, Alberta Environment reports. The mountain runoff forecast as of Feb. 7, posted by the department, indicates above average levels in the Oldman River Basin near Lethbridge and Brocket, as well as in the Bow […] Read more


A study found that irrigated fields have higher greenhouse gas emissions that non-irrigated fields.  |  File photo

Reducing nitrous oxide emissions benefits farmers

Farmers who use best management practices for agronomic reasons also gain environmental benefits, says a University of Saskatchewan researcher. However, soil scientist Dr. Richard Farrell told the recent provincial irrigation conference there is room for improvement around nitrogen use. Agricultural soils produce about half of total greenhouse gas emissions for the sector but 90 percent […] Read more

There’s no flax in this field’s low spot, but the rest of the crop is struggling to full maturity west of Wrentham, Alta.  | Barb Glen photo

Irrigation makes the difference

Crops in southern Alberta are a study in contrasts this year. Those farming some of the region’s 1.4 million irrigated acres are looking at average yields. Those farming dry land acres are harvesting fields with much lower yields due to low rainfall since May. “I’m expecting 90 percent to 105 percent of average,” crop adviser […] Read more