IWA Publishing

Evaluation of cattle bedding and grazing BMPs in an agricultural watershed in Alberta


This paper highlights the environmental impacts of implementing beneficial management practices to address cattle bedding and direct access to the creek in a study watershed in southern Alberta, Canada. Approximately 35 cow–calf pairs grazed 194 ha of grass forage and had direct access to the creek in the spring and summer. During winter, the cattle were fed adjacent to the creek at an old bedding site. The practice changes included off-stream watering, bedding site relocation and fencing for rotational grazing. The cost was $15,225 and 60 h of labour. Four years of data were used in a before-and-after experimental design to evaluate the practice changes. After two years of post-implementation monitoring, riparian assessments showed an increase in plant diversity, but no change in the percent cover of the riparian species Salix exigua and Juncus balitus and a decrease in Carex sp. (P < 0.05). Water quality monitoring showed a decrease in the difference between upstream and downstream concentrations of total phosphorus, total dissolved phosphorus, total nitrogen, organic nitrogen and Escherichia coli (P < 0.10). These results showed that improved environmental changes in riparian and water quality can be measured following the implementation of beneficial management practices for cattle bedding and grazing.

Keywords: agricultural beneficial management practices, cattle grazing, environmental impacts, riparian assessment, water quality

Customer comments

  1. By M Montemayor on

    The statistical analysis description for water quality parameters did not mention whether data were checked for nomality and homogeneity of variances. Water quality data influenced by hydrologic events may not necessarily follow a normal distribution, let alone the differences between upstream and downstream concentrations which were the data analyzed (derived data). Therefore, I am have doubts whether the parametric analysis used was appropriate.

  2. By M Montemayor on

    In addition, the subtraction of values of parameters between upstream and downstream sites would be logical if it was made certain that at both these sites it was indeed the same parcel of water (as in a synoptic survey).