Study explores impacts of blueberry agriculture on Tabusintac Watershed
FREDERICTON – When Vlad Trajkovic took a summer job with the Tabusintac Watershed Association, he didn’t know it would inspire an award-winning research project.
In early October, the Canadian Technology Accreditation Board announced that Trajkovic, a graduate of the Environmental Technology program at NBCC Miramichi Campus, had placed first in the 2016 National Applied Research / Technology Report Contest.
His project was conducted in 2015/2016 and explores the potential impacts of blueberry agriculture on the Tabusintac Watershed using advanced modelling and in-depth statistical analysis.
New Brunswick has ideal conditions to grow blueberries and is home to many of Canada’s top blueberry growers. The New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan predicts that the province will soon be the largest producer of blueberries in the world. With this type of growth, community members are concerned about risks to health and the environment, says Trajkovic.
Using a framework called the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) developed by Environment Canada, he measured and compared data findings from the Tabusintac Watershed to ecosystem conditions across Canada. Based on all aspects of the CABIN protocol, his study determined that local blueberry agriculture has not impacted the Tabusintac River. His study did find evidence to indicate the Tabusintac has been slightly impacted by human activity. The study recommends ongoing sampling of the Tabusintac CABIN sites annually, and further analysis of river organisms.
The award also includes a $1,000 prize. He has found the experience to be rewarding in many ways as he has learned more than he expected about research and data. “At NBCC, you learn the theory, then you go do it. That’s what I like about NBCC. The instructors are phenomenal, they help you every step of the way – they don’t leave you hanging,” said Trajkovic.
He is appreciative of his instructors, particularly Linwood Dunham, Sara Lloyd and Danielle Manuel, for their support along the way. “All of those teachers inspired me to reach heights I never thought I could.”
“Over his two years with us, Vlad demonstrated a strong desire to learn and go above and beyond what was expected,” said Linwood Dunham, Instructor, Environmental Technology. “This was demonstrated in Vlad’s research as we provided basic guidance during the project and he took that information and ultimately created one of the best research reports we’ve seen in the program. We’re so proud to see such a well-deserving student receive this honour.”
After graduation, Trajkovic took the summer off to relax. When he started his job search, he was offered a position within two days. He is currently employed as an environmental technologist with Dillon Consulting in Fredericton.
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- Developed by Environment Canada, the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) is a standardized sampling protocol that assesses the health of freshwater ecosystems.
- CABIN uses various methods for measuring the water quality of freshwater rivers and streams such as analyzing benthic macroinvertebrate taxa, water chemistry, and river characteristics.
About the study
- An aquatic ecosystem is composed of physical and chemical components as well as biological communities that can become unbalanced from natural or anthropogenic factors.
- The adverse effects of an ecosystem depend on site-specific biological, chemical and physical characteristics, and it is necessary to monitor these features to determine the effect of human influence on an aquatic ecosystem (Hanson-Lee, N/D); therefore, the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network protocol was used to determine if blueberry agriculture has impacted the Tabusintac River.
- Based on all aspect of the CABIN protocol, it has been determined that the Tabusintac blueberry agriculture has not impacted the Tabusintac river; although, evidence of excessive sedimentation near local fording site and benthic taxonomic compositions indicate the Tabusintac has been slightly impacted by human activity.
- Recommendations were made to continue sampling the Tabusintac CABIN sites annually, and to look at the invertebrate taxonomic compositions closely for a further in-depth analysis.