Researchers discovered damage and theft of tools being used to monitor drainage and water quality
By Jackie Clark
An individual or group of individuals has been damaging, vandalizing, and stealing equipment from the Huronview Demonstration Farm near Clinton. The equipment is part of ongoing agricultural research relevant to farmers in the surrounding community, and across Ontario.
The farm is operated by the Huron Soil and Crop Improvement Association, with research continually monitored by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA).
“I think it’s fair to say that all of the partners at the Huronview Demonstration Farm are disappointed in the recent events,” Mari Veliz, the healthy watersheds manager for the ABCA, told Farms.com. “We don’t know who would do this.”
Staff monitoring the farm first noticed damaged and missing equipment after the Aug. 15 weekend, with additional vandalism and theft noted after the weekends of Sept. 5 and Sept 12.
“It’s mostly car batteries that have been stolen,” Veliz said. “At the Huronview Demonstration Farm we are looking at different types of tile drainage to see if there are ways that we can mitigate some of the downstream effects of tile drainage on water quality and quantity.”
Researchers have been sampling at the site since October 2018.
“It’s an important project – lots of people are interested in the research work that’s being done. And it’s a beautiful site, it overlooks the Bayfield river and we want to encourage people to go and see it,” she explained. “We’re out there pretty frequently, but it’s still challenging” to monitor the site constantly.
The damage and theft of equipment has made some data collection more challenging for the project.
“We still have ways of collecting information,” Veliz said. “We will miss some data, but we will try to capture as much as we can.”
The researchers are having to figure out alternative ways to sample, and are removing some of the more high-tech equipment to prevent theft. “We had linked real-time water quality information … right to the web,” she explained. This allowed community members to observe current soil and water conditions.
“That wasn’t stolen, but with the vandalism and thefts, I had to put it away for now until we can figure out how to ensure it’s safe, going forward,” she added. “I think it’s important that the community just be aware that this project is going on and be aware of these thefts.”
The ABCA is asking anyone with any potential information about the vandalism and thefts to contact their organization, or the police.