How ALUS helps Quebec farmer Olivier Martin deliver a commitment to stewardship.
ALUS Montérégie participant and 2021 Dave Reid Award runner-up Olivier Martin grows field crops and raises 30,000 hogs per year on Ferme Gestion Petit Manoir, a 2,000-acre farm in Saint Mathias-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.
Known for a firm dedication to green manures and cover crops, he is currently trying a blend of mustard, clover and ryegrass on his croplands. He also manages an array of major ALUS projects, producing ecosystem services to benefit the environment and the local community.
“It’s important to take care of the land for future generations,” said Martin. “As a farmer, I am happy to give up some profit now if it means I can ensure the land and the water will remain healthy for my daughters in the future.”
The ALUS Montérégie team has been helping him do just that.
Two of Martin’s ALUS projects are located along the Rivière des Hurons, an important river in the watershed of the same name, which is home to five threatened species of fish including a globally unique species called the Copper redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi).
“It was very important to me that we stopped the riverbank from eroding under the ice every spring,” says Martin.
At one of these sites, ALUS helped Martin performed significant work to help stop the erosion of the riverbank, including physical engineering to stabilize the outlet of the field drain.
ALUS also established a riparian windbreak hedge in a double-row 180 metres long and eight metres wide, featuring white spruce, American larch, red oak and sugar maples planted every six metres, with dogwoods, roses, elderberries, meadowsweet, chokeberry and honeysuckle planted between the trees, as well as a flowering meadow for pollinator habitat.
Martin has another ALUS project downriver, on a two-acre piece of land that could no longer be farmed due to right-of-way issues. Martin opted to reforest the area through ALUS, planting 75 native trees of nine different species, with 150 native shrubs established between them.
The maintenance simply involves keeping the grass down until the trees and shrubs are well established along the bank.
Another of Martin’s ALUS projects is a pond near the farmhouse that has been vastly improved for wildlife habitat. ALUS helped Martin establish a buffer zone around the pond and plant it with trees and edible fruit shrubs, which he now maintains.
ALUS also helped Martin enhance the quality of wildlife habitat provided in that riparian zone by establishing bluebird and swallow nesting boxes and two sandy nesting sites for the pond’s resident snapping turtles.
“She seems to prefer the nesting site further from the road,” Martin remarks. “And she is getting enormous.”
It’s a good sign, and one that serves Martin’s overall goal to ensure his land produces habitat for turtles, fish, frogs, pollinators, birds and other wildlife, while also benefitting his family and communities downstream that will continue to depend on good water quality in Montérégie for generations to come.
For more information on ALUS Montérégie, visit their web page here.