PAA equivalent

A complete and up-to-date Risk evaluation and Agri-environmental action plan is a requirement of the proAction® initiative. Consult this section to analyze your operations and develop your own plan to prioritize the agri-environmental measures to implement on your farm.

Source, PLQ
Photograph, André Piette

Nutrient management is using nutrients as efficiently as possible to improve productivity while protecting the environment. Nutrients, both organic and inorganic, that are not effectively used by crops have the potential to leach into groundwater or enter nearby surface waters via overland runoff or subsurface agricultural drainage systems. Therefore, a major principle of crop nutrient management is to prevent the over-application of nutrients, including manure.


Fertilizing is only permitted on cultivated land and in accordance with an agri-environmental fertilization plan (AEFP) (where required). The AEFP must contain all of the mandatory application information (e.g. fertilizer amounts, spreading modes and periods).

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health

Quebec government - Règlement sur les exploitations agricoles


Minnesota Department of Agriculture - Conservation practices


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - Reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Initiative. Draft version of July 2015



All operators of liquid manure raising sites and operators of solid manure raisings sites whose annual phosphorus production is greater than 1,600 kg and solid manure raising sites of over 15 ha must carry out an annual phosphorus report by determining the herd’s total annual production and adding it to the total volume of fertilizer that is applied.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health

Quebec government - Règlement sur les exploitations agricoles


Minnesota Department of Agriculture - Conservation practices


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - Reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Initiative. Draft version of July 2015



Fertilizers may only be applied from April 1 to October 1.



However, fertilizers may be applied after October 1 on soil that is not frozen or snow covered if the agrologist who set out the agri-environmental fertilization plan determined another period of restriction. In addition, if the fertilizer is manure from livestock, the proportion of the waste must be lower than 35% the annual volume produced by the raising site.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health
  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur les exploitations agricoles


Minnesota Department of Agriculture - Conservation practices


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - Reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Initiative. Draft version of July 2015



Waste with liquid manure management must be spread with low-ramp or low-trajectory broadcast equipment with an exit point for liquid manure at a maximum height of 1 m above the ground. It must project manure over a distance of no more than 2 m to reach the ground.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health

Quebec government - PAA expliqué 2015


Minnesota Department of Agriculture - Conservation practices


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - Reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Initiative. Draft version of July 2015


Storage is a necessary part of livestock production since manure should only be incorporated into the soil or spread on fields at certain times of year. The extent to which these nutrients can be returned to the soil and made available to crops depends on how the manure is stored and handled. Proper storage is therefore important to maximize the efficient use of manure—a valuable soil resource.


The port is a vertical pipe with an inside diameter of at least 40 cm near the storage facilities. The water from the drains installed along the outside perimeter at or below the floor level of the facilities runs through the port, making it possible to sample the water and ensure the watertightness of the facilities.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Contaminated water from piles must not reach the surface water. In addition, the runoff upstream of piles must be intercepted. Consult an agrologist to ensure that piles do not contaminate surface water.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality


Piles must be completely removed and reclaimed or eliminated in the 12 months of the first input of solid manure forming the pile.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health
  • Water quality


Piles may be kept on cultivated fields under these conditions:



  • Contaminated water from the pile must not come in contact with surface water.

  • The runoff must not reach the pile.

  • The solid manure pile must not contain more than 2 000 kg of phosphorus and must only be used to fertilize the cultivated parcel on which the pile is located or an adjacent one.

  • The pile must be located at least 100 m from the location of a pile that was removed for 12 months or less.

  • The pile must be completely removed and reclaimed or eliminated within 12 months of the first input of solid manure forming the pile



An operator who sets out an AEFP may only constitute a pile upon the signed recommendation of an agrologist.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health
  • Water quality

Soil is the basis of farming. It delivers water and nutrients to crops, physically supports plants, helps control pests, determines where rainfall goes after it hits the earth and protects the quality of drinking water, air and wildlife habitats. The goal of soil management is to protect the soil and enhance its performance so you can farm profitably and preserve the quality of the environment for decades to come.


The steeper and longer the slope of a field, the greater the risk of erosion. Longer slopes lead to more runoff and greater erosion. Merging smaller fields to create a larger area often lengthens slopes. Because the water flow is faster, sediment transport increases and the risks of erosion and scouring rise.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health
  • Water quality


Differences from one field to the next can help determine potential land degradation problems that may be more or less visible on the surface, including compaction, inadequate drainage, degraded soil structure, low rates of organic matter, acidity, deficient soil fertility and chemical imbalance.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Greater yields above drains may indicate soil compaction caused by machinery or a naturally compact or hardened surface.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Field areas that retain water over long periods and affect vegetation growth may be linked to soil compaction by machinery, inadequate water drainage due to inadequate surface levelling or clogged drains, loss of soil structure due to a lack of organic matter, over tillage or groundwater resurgence.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Tracks left by machinery are a sign that tillage was carried out at the wrong time or that the sector does not drain quickly enough.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


The accumulation of soil particles (e.g. at the bottom of a slope) is a sign that the soil may be eroding.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Rills and gullying caused by water are a sign that the soil may be eroding.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Soil texture, inadequate soil structure due to a lack of organic material or over tillage, crops that do not adequately protect the soil or exposure to dominant winds foster wind erosion.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Direct seeding and reduced tillage limit soil compaction and runoff issues. Working areas with a chisel, a harrow or any other tool that is not a plow is considered reduced tillage.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Cover crops contribute to soil health and productivity.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Crop residue contributes to soil health and productivity.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Incorporating manure soon after spreading reduces fertilizer loss and odours.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health

Sound water quantity and quality management is in the best interest of every farm and is an important consideration to ensure a steady supply of safe drinking water for cattle. While regulations safeguard water quality, good management practices generally go one step further and provide additional benefits for the farm and the environment. Good practices in the barn and field are key to ensure efficient water use that does not negatively impact ground and surface water quality.


There are two options to recover dairy farm wastewater:



  1. for an operation with liquid manure management, water must flow into the storage facility or into a sewer system, where permitted

  2. for an operation with solid manure management equipped with a storage facility and a holding basin, water must flow into the holding basin or a sewer system, where permitted

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur les exploitations agricoles


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


Contaminated water from the pile must not reach the surface water. In addition, the upstream runoff from the pile must be intercepted. An operation that is not equipped with watertight livestock waste storage facilities must implement measures to ensure that contaminated water from the pile does not reach the surface water. Consult an agrologist to ensure that the pile does not contaminate surface water.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur le prélèvement des eaux et leur protection




Quebec government - PAA expliqué 2015


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


The manure that accumulates in the yard must be removed and reclaimed or eliminated at least once a year.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur les exploitations agricoles


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


Animal access to watercourses, bodies of water and their riparian strips is prohibited, except for fording watercourses.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur les exploitations agricoles


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


The spreading of fertilizers is prohibited in these areas:



  1. a watercourse or body of water, and within their riparian strips, whose boundaries are defined by municipal bylaw

  2. where the law has not established the riparian strip


    • in a watercourse, lake or swamp with a minimum area of 10 000 m2 or a pond and within a 3-m riparian strip

    • in an agricultural ditch and within a 1 m strip from the ditch


Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur les exploitations agricoles


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


Windbreaks growing in and around fields provide several benefits: stabilization for watercourse banks, shelter for wildlife, pesticide drift reduction, landscape enhancement, odour reduction when spreading farm waste, shade for herds, off-farm income source, etc. They also serve to protect crops and soil from the wind. When effectively grown, they create an area of relative calm that extends at least 10 times higher than the windbreak itself. In the area, a warmer, less stressful microclimate for crops can lead to better yields of at least 10% depending on the crop species. Slowing the wind also reduces wind erosion impacts, especially when the crops leave the soil bare or partially bare.

Potential benefits:

  • Biodiversity
  • Water quality
  • Good neighbourliness

Quebec government - PAA expliqué 2015


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


Water erosion, surplus fertilizer leaching through drains and contaminated runoff from waste storage facilities can lead to algae growth. Other signs of pollution include high turbidity, brownish water, dead fish and sandbanks.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health
  • Water quality

Quebec government - PAA expliqué 2015


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015



Within an area of immediate protection that is 30 m from a category 1 or 2 water withdrawal site or 3 m from category 3 withdrawal site, all activities presenting a risk of water contamination are prohibited, unless they are related to the operation, maintenance, rebuilding or replacement of the water withdrawal facility and its accessory equipment.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - PAA expliqué 2015


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015



Signage identifies wells and reduces the risk of contamination.

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


Identifying wells prevents the accidental contamination of drinking water sources and facilitates and increases the safety of fieldwork. There are two ways to identify wells:



  • when developing the farm plan (as part of the AEFP), indicate the location of the wells and their areas of protection and advise the farm operator or those responsible for input application (manure and minerals, pesticides, fertilizer residuals)

  • install signage in fields

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - PAA expliqué 2015


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015



A well must be equipped with a secure cover that is resistant to the weather, contaminants and vermin. If the facility is exposed to immersion risks, the cover must also resist water infiltration. The soil around the facility must prevent water pooling and runoff towards the facility over a distance of 1 m around the facility. For more information, see the Water Withdrawal and Protection Regulation.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur le prélèvement des eaux et leur protection


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


Well plugs must meet these conditions:



  1. a material that is not likely to degrade the quality of the groundwater;

  2. a well casing exposed to a depth of at least 1 m below the surface of the ground;

  3. well casing cut off at the bottom of the excavation;

  4. the portion of the casing open to the aquifer must be filled with clean sand;

  5. the remaining portion of the casing must be filled with pure bentonite or a cement bentonite mix;

  6. a concrete slab must be placed over the end of the casing;

  7. the excavation must be filled using the soil initially excavated.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Règlement sur le prélèvement des eaux et leur protection


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015


Water saving methods and tools include the recirculation of treated water and the use of pressure washers in farm buildings.

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - PAA expliqué 2015


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015



It is prohibited to apply pesticides for agricultural purposes:



  1. less than 3 m from a watercourse, body of water or ditch where the total flow area (average width multiplied by average height) of the part of the watercourse or ditch is greater than 2 m2; the relative distance from a ditch is measures from its edgeline;

  2. less than 1 m from a watercourse, including an intermittent watercourse, or a ditch with a total flow area of 2 m2 or less for the part of the watercourse or ditch; the relative distance from a watercourse is measured from the natural high-water mark of the watercourse as defined in the policy referred to in the second paragraph of section 1 of the Pesticides Management Code and the relative distance from a ditch is measured from its edgeline.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Water quality

Quebec government - Code de gestion des pesticides


Dairy Farmers of Canada (2015) - reference Manual: Evironment. proAction® Program. Draft version of July 2015

Pest management is an important component of agricultural production. Pests can have a detrimental effect by affecting both the quantity and quality of crops. The goal of pest management is to provide effective, cost-effective and safe long-term pest control.


Measures to reduce pesticide use include the use of disease-resistant cultivars and compliance with recommendations set out by the Réseau d'avertissements phytosanitaire (RAP).

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Pesticide resistance is a crop pest’s capacity to survive after pesticide treatment that should effectively control the pest.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Follow-up measures include activities to ensure plant health such as testing, mixing and applying and the determination of buffer strips. Operators must ensure that the application is carried out in compliance with government regulations and according to the recommendations of an external agrologist (when applicable).

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Pesticides should be applied early in the morning or late in the day to prevent heat stress and reduce risks for pollinizers, which are less active during these periods. In addition, pesticides should not be applied when winds are over 13 km/hour to prevent pesticide drift.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Resetting a sprayer involves a series of checks and adjustments to regulate the amount of product applied per surface unit and ensure consistent application. Sprayers should be reset at least once a year, ideally at the start of the production season. The settings should be checked when installing a new nozzle and when the volume of mix per hectare or field speed is changed.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


The proper equipment and a cab-forward tractor help protect against certain harmful pesticides. Suggested protective equipment includes rubber gloves, breathing masks, rubber boots, protective clothing and goggles.

Potential benefits:

  • Farmer's well-being


All empty pesticide containers must be carefully drained and rinsed using a triple-rinsing or high-pressure system. Once they are rinsed, the containers must be crushed or punctured and rendered unusable (unless they are to be returned to the manufacturer) to ensure that they are not used for other purposes. The empty containers must be kept in a safe location until they are eliminated. They must never be burned or buried and should be returned to the retailer to be recycled.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


After applying a pesticide, rinse the sprayer to reduce the sources of point pollution and the risks of phytotoxicity during the next application and extend the service life of the spraying equipment. The sprayer should be rinsed to sufficiently reduce the concentration of the active substances contained in the dead volume of the equipment after spraying. So as not to contaminate the yard with pesticide residue, the equipment must be rinsed in the field where the pesticide was applied. It is recommended that the equipment be rinsed over an area that has already been sprayed and had time to dry. A tank with clear water is required to rinse equipment in the field. As a general rule, the tank should total approximately 10% of the volume of the main tank. The equipment should be washed after it is rinsed.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Excess spray mix is the amount of pesticide that has not been applied. The excess mix should not be disposed of in the same way as the spraying equipment rising water (i.e. on the sprayed field). There are three ways to reduce the risks associated with excess mixes: avoid surpluses by calculating the amount of spray required and adopting best practices (e.g. sprayer settings), recycle the surpluses by applying the excess spray mix on areas that have not been treated and which require the same treatment and account for this treatment when spraying the next time and call upon specialized services to eliminate the excess spray mix (consult your regional MDDELCC office).

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


There is a program to recycle empty agricultural containers. There are some 70 recycling centres across Quebec.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Depending on the crops planted, different measures will prevent pesticide drift: low-drift nozzles, windbreaks, tower and tunnel sprayers, spray adjuvants and spraying at optimal times.

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


In order to apply pesticides, operators (or their employees) must be certified by the MDDELCC or supervised by a certified individual. Applicants must pass a test that is prescribed or recognized by the government to obtain their certification. Optional training sessions are provided to acquire the knowledge required to pass the certification test.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


The waiting period before harvesting is always indicated on product labels. It is important to read the labels to avoid contact with the pesticides. Employees who must apply pesticides to crops may be very exposed to the products. Compliance with the waiting period between the time of application and the return to work in a field that has been sprayed minimizes the risks of dermal exposure to pesticides. The waiting period is referred to as the re-entry interval and may be indicated on the product label. The waiting periods are generally between 12 and 48 hours but may be longer depending on the toxicity of the product and the different crops. When there is no waiting period indicated on the label, it is best to comply with the provisional periods set out by the Institut national de santé publique du Quebec (INSPQ).

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health


Pesticides should always be stored in a designated area. The storage area must always be locked, and there should be hazardous materials signs. The containment system may be a floor, platform or watertight basin to contain and allow the complete recovery of any pesticide leak or spillage.

Priority practice

Potential benefits:

  • Soil health

Through proper planning and management, biodiversity and wildlife habitats on the farm can be enhanced, often to the benefit of crops. Many agricultural management practices may be adopted to enhance both crop yields and biodiversity.


Neither terrestrial nor aquatic environments, wetlands are saturated with water and foster aquatic life. They play a key role in nutrient uptake and erosion and flood control.

Potential benefits:

  • Biodiversity