Environment - Land and Water

Botanic Gardens and Treatment Wetlands at Olds College

Olds College has a unique tie to the land and environment in which we live.  Our College was built upon agriculture and the farming life, and as such our students, staff, and faculty have always understood the importance of taking care of our environment. With a dedicated focus to ensuring that our water supply, soil, the natural world that we live in remains healthy and productive, the Olds College Centre of Innovation is proud to provide services to advance the understanding of the world around us.

Olds College Centre for Innovation Webinar: Phyto-Remediation of Water With Excess Nutrients

Streamed June 24, 2020

Our Services: 

  • Education and awareness through Wetland tours and information sessions
  • Remediation and land development consultation in regards to environmental impact
  • Wetland related demonstration projects
  • Information dissemination
  • Water quality monitoring and data collection

Water and Water Quality Research

Although Canada's supply of fresh surface water amounts to an area which is larger than most countries, there are increasing local issues and challenges. The Olds College Botanic Gardens and Constructed Wetlands initiative was designed to treat the College's stormwater, while providing solid information via education, demonstration projects, and research, to help improve the management of Alberta's wetlands.Together the constructed wetlands and the Botanical Gardens provide an outdoor laboratory for students, industry training site and a nucleus for community programs.

Research takes many forms in the Botanic Gardens and Constructed Wetlands, and allows the College to partner and collaborate with many groups and organizations involved with horticulture, land and water management and related fields.

Constructed Wetlands

The Constructed Wetlands are located in the newest phase of the Botanic Gardens. The Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI) is the scientifically acclaimed applied research arm of Olds College. OCCI is committed to furthering the application of wetland water management critical to the sustainability of agriculture and horticulture, land use practices, economic growth, water conservation, protecting water supplies, and reducing the incidence of flooding, drought and erosion, and creating wildlife habitats. Availability of high quality water is a requirement for sustainable environmental health. Wetland water management processes will help reduce the negative impact on our environment and the ever-increasing demand on our diminishing supply of clean water.

The Olds College Constructed Wetlands is a 'real time' model for both rural and urban water conservation and recycling. The 19 ponds serve to remove sediments and undesirable nutrients from the water, and these functions are continuously monitored. In addition to the information collected through the study and use of run-off from the College campus, we are always seeking out research projects to undertake in partnership with industry.

Prairie Fruit Orchard

The Olds College School of Environment, with funding from the Alberta Professional Horticulture Growers Congress and Foundation Society and the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association, has established a demonstration fruit orchard on campus. Generous donations from members of the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association, in particular Arden and Dave Delidais of DNA Gardens, contributed a substantial amount of plant material which allowed us to get the orchard ready for teaching, research and industry training in 2009.

The orchard covers a quarter hectare just east of the Land Sciences Centre at the north end of the Olds College campus.

Alberta Regional Lily Society Project

Olds College has been working with the Alberta Regional Lily Society since 2008.  Over this time dozens of lilies have been trialed and information collected on emergence dates, height, bloom time, bud and flower count and other criteria.  Comparison was done on planting depth, use of mulch and the depth of mulch used. The Botanic Gardens has also worked with the Alberta Regional Lily Society to establish lily display beds in the Central Gardens.

Botanic Gardens & Wetlands

Reclamation and Remediation Research

Olds College has a long history of research work on bioremediation of contaminated soil and water, reclamation of previously disturbed sites, and the use of native plants and organic amendments including biochar and compost. This work has been conducted both locally and internationally. The recently completed Olds College Botanic Gardens III and Constructed Wetlands will in addition to treating the College’s storm and waste water and providing solid information to help improve the management of Alberta’s wetlands, be a site to conduct research to determine the best and most effective wetlands plant species, indigenous to Alberta, that can be used for bioremediation of various contaminants.