November 16, 2018
Stewardship is instinct, says Oxford County farmer
A Zorra Township man and his family have a history of protecting the county’s soil, water and air and also encouraging other landowners they rent from to support their stewardship projects in Oxford County.
Ian Matheson recently initiated a large-scale structural erosion control project on a property he rents outside of Brooksdale, earning him a spot as one of the three finalists for the Oxford Stewardship Award.
“It’s nice to be recognized for something like this, but I do it because it’s instinct, not for recognition. I do it for the long-term benefit,” said Matheson, who has farmed the subject property for four years.
The land’s gentle slopes and small rolling hills create a picturesque scene along the 37th Line, but when heavy rain came Matheson saw nothing but havoc. Six valleys all run into the field creating large gullies and extensive soil erosion during the growing season.
“There were about five washouts, three-to-four-feet deep, where I would have to stop and crawl through it with equipment,” said Matheson, who rotates crops between corn, soybeans and wheat. “There was considerable soil loss, crop loss and just a really big nuisance.”
Matheson worked with the landowner and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) to install drains and design an extensive set of terraces, or berms, to break up the long slopes and catch the upper most surface runoff to eliminate soil erosion.
The project involved stripping off the topsoil and hauling in about 400 truckloads of clay from a nearby quarry to create two rises, graded with topsoil and seeded. Each berm is about 1.5 metres high, stretching between 150 to 500 metres long. This was the first growing season since the new soil structure was in place and so far has stopped the gully erosion.
This project followed other erosion control measures Matheson initiated on an 85-acre farm he also rents nearby.