The Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre is once again utilizing sheep to provide natural vegetation management at their location on Woito Station Road. Over 45 ewes and lambs have been provided through a partnership with local farmer and North Algona Wilberforce Councilor Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt.
The concept of using goats or sheep to assist with vegetation management is not a new idea. The Centre has been utilizing sheep since 2019 and other programs in Alberta and the United States have used goats and sheep as a natural method to assist in managing vegetative growth on landfills and in City parks.
The sheep are used in areas of the landfill site that have reached final contour and have been capped. Once final contour is reached, landfill waste is covered with 24 inches of soil and granular material, followed by 6 inches of top soil. It is then seeded and natural vegetation is allowed to grow. The area the sheep were grazing in this summer reached final contour and was capped in 2005.
Sue McCrae, General Manager at the Waste Recovery Centre explains why managing vegetative growth on the landfill is so important. “Maintaining grasses and other vegetation is a condition of our operating license. This allows staff to inspect the capped landfill area regularly. This can be done mechanically using a tractor and brush mower or we can utilize more natural methods like sheep.”
Based on the experience from the 2019 pilot project, OVWRC staff installed a larger electric fence perimeter in 2020 which allowed for increased pasture rotation. The electric fence perimeter was further expanded in 2021 and an additional shade structure was built. The sheep remain in the large fenced in area during the day and at night, the sheep are moved into a more secure area to protect them from predators.
“This has been a great project to be involved in.” Comments Councilor Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt. “Our sheep remain healthy throughout the entire summer and there has been no problems related to predators. We also require pasture area for our sheep and the Centre has to maintain the vegetation at the site so it’s a benefit to both of is.”
It is not only the environmental benefit of using natural methods to control vegetation, there is also a cost savings explained McCrae. “The sheep are able to control the vegetation in a large area of the landfill and eliminate the need to use equipment to cut or trim grasses and other vegetation growing on finished areas of the landfill.”