skip to main content

Crops and Creeks Huron

Updated: December 2020

Since 2008, landowners of the Bayfield North Watersheds, a 40-square-kilometre area north of Bayfield, Ontario, have been working with the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) and other agricultural and environmental agencies to implement best management practices (BMPs) and monitor the effects of these practices on water quality at the field and watershed scales.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation would like to thank the many landowners and producers in the Bayfield North watersheds who have implemented many projects over more than 10 years, as well as some of the landowners in the Gully Creek Watershed who have helped with monitoring efforts. There are also many other partners, organizations and agencies who have helped with efforts during this project – please visit the links to their websites at the bottom of this page.

Summary of Findings

Gully Creek has been of particular interest and is an area of intense BMP implementation and monitoring efforts. In addition, research partners from the University of Guelph, led by Dr. Wanhong Yang, have developed a Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model, which is a hydrologic model that can be used to help determine the collective effect of the BMPs at a watershed scale.

The BMPs that have been evaluated over the past ten years include conservation tillage, cover crops, nutrient management, water and sediment control basins (WASCoBs or berms), and a grass filter strip.

Some of our main findings can be summarized in the following points:

  1. At the field scale, structural projects (such as WASCoBs and grass filter strips) seem to reduce pollutant transport, mainly for sediment and phosphorus (P); 
  2. At the field scale, the effect of land management practices was harder to determine due to difficulties in collecting water. Due to these difficulties we had to rely on modelled results. The modelled results showed pollutant reductions related to cover crop adoption and conservation tillage practices; 
  3. At the watershed scale, modelled results found that P reductions were relatively small due to the small scale of the BMP implementation; 
  4. Watershed monitoring results show negligible reductions possibly due to the small scale of BMP implementation, the effects of conventional management practices, or potentially weather related variability; and
  5. Broad application of a systematic – 'avoid, control, trap and treat' – approach to BMP implementation have yielded more significant modelled reductions in P at the watershed scale.

Evaluation has helped to develop a broader awareness around the importance of cover crops, improved soil health, and a systematic approach to BMP implementation. Changes implemented across the watershed and across the landscape help to improve and protect Lake Huron.

Without your continued help, projects such as Crops and Creeks Huron would not be possible. 

Thank you!

Project Partners

Our project partners include:


Please find our latest reports on the efforts in the Gully Creek watershed can be found at the following links (these are large PDF files between 2 MB and 3 MB in size). Files are available in alternate formats upon request. Contact Mari Veliz at for copies of any of these reports.:

2013 (WBBE Project)

Other Links

Grants and Technical Expertise

If you own an agricultural property, and are interested in implementing a BMP on your property, or would like more information on funding programs to help implement BMPs, please call Kate Monk at the ABCA by telephone – 519-235-2610, or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 or by e-mail at