The Town of Roblin and the RM of Hillsburg are located on the Saskatchewan Plain. Most of the RM of Hillsburg is located in the Duck Mountain and Riding Mountain Uplands. Lower elevations in the central portion of the RM are in the Valley River Plain. Elevations range from 645 m. (2,116 ft. above sea level in the Duck Mountain Upland to 480 m. (1,575 ft. above sea level in the Valley River Plain. The land surface in the uplands is hummocky with local relief of 3 m. (10 ft.) to 8 m. (26 ft.) and slopes of 5 to 9 percent. Areas of higher relief in excess of 8 m. (26 ft.) with 9 to 15 percent slopes occur in the Duck Mountain Uplands. Slopes in excess of 30 percent characterize several glacial melt water channels in the uplands. Undulating to near level areas with local relief under 3 m. (10 ft.) and slopes of 2 to 5 percent occur in the southern portion of the region.
The topography of the Mountainview Planning District ranges from the steep slopes of the Manitoba Escarpment to the smooth and gently sloping Valley River Plain and Lowland Plain. A network of creeks and rivers from east to Lake Winnipegosis, Dauphin Lake and the Mossy River are the drainage facilities for the District. None of the watercourses are deeply entrenched and river valleys are almost non-existent in the Lowland Plain resulting in imperfectly drained soils and potential for flooding in spring and during heavy rainfalls. The soils of the Valley River Plain are well drained. Surface drainage in the Riding and Duck Mountain areas is rapid over most of this hilly area.
Much of the region is situated within the Manitoba Lowland Plain and River Valley Plain. The former occupies a portion of Lake Agassiz Basin while the latter occupies a former Bay of the ancient glacial lake. The western and southern regions of the area extend into the Duck and Riding Mountains which form a segment of the Manitoba Escarpment.
The Mountainview Planning District is almost entirely underlain by the Swan River, Ashville, Favel, Vermillion River formations and the Millwood member of the Riding Mountain formations of the Cretaceous age. An area of the Melita formation of the Jurassic age occurs in the north-eastern region of the district. Bedrock outcroppings occur along the Valley River, Wilson River and Sulphur Springs Creek in the RM of Gilbert Plains.
The soils in the Parkland area are a reflection of the climate. Soils are highly productive but are different from southern Manitoba in the type of vegetation under which they were developed as there is a higher amount of moisture available for plant growth. The soils are well drained and 5.5% of the agricultural land is considered black chernozemic soil developed under grassland.
The Parkland area has 18% of the soils developed under the grassland forest transition, resulting in a dark grey classification. A further 16% can be classified as grey luvisols which have been developed under forest. Luvisols are more prone to erosion and cropping practices include more forage to compensate for this concern. Therefore, livestock is a significant factor in helping to diversify the Parkland agricultural economy.
The Canada Land Inventory (CLI) Soil Capability for Agriculture is one of the most widely recognized agricultural interpretations. Guidelines were developed to manually rate various soil, landform and climatic factors (Canada Land Inventory, 1965). The CLI Agriculture Capability system has 7 classes based on their soil survey with Class 1 being very productive soil and Class 7 very poor soil. All soils in the same class have a similar relative degree or risk for annual crop production. Subclasses are used to indicate the most significant types of limitation or hazard. Manitoba’s guidelines are further developed.
Soils in Classes 1, 2, 3 and 4 are considered capable of sustained use for cultivated field crops. Those in Classes 5 and 6 are only for perennial forage crops and those in Class 7 have no capability for agriculture. There is a large percentage of Class 2 and 3 soils that are available across the region which means that the communities have the capacity to grow crops by large volume for industrial processing.
The soil materials in the RM of Hillsburg consist primarily of loamy textured glacial till deposits. Areas of sand and gravel deposits and water worked, stony till are common near the glacial melt water valleys. The majority of the soils in the RM are well drained with minor areas of imperfect drainage on lower slopes. A network of rivers and streams tributary to the Shell and Valley Rivers facilitates surface drainage. Excessively wet soils are minor in extent and there are no significant bedrock outcrops. Although variably stony soils occur throughout the area, very stony conditions facilitated by stream erosion are of particular concern bordering some river valleys and melt water channels. Erosion and instability issues may be exacerbated if clearing or unsuitable agricultural practices take place.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Soils & Terrain Bulletins:
The sand and gravel aquifer resources associated with till and the Swan River Formation has generally good water that is suitable for all purposes. The availability of good quality water is important for industrial siting and other economic development opportunities.
There are distinct physiographic areas that influence the distribution of surface water resources. The western edge of the district encompasses segments of the steep eastern slopes of the Manitoba Escarpment. Major tributaries include the Valley and Wilson Rivers that drain into Dauphin Lake and the Garland River that flows northeasterly to Lake Winnipegosis. There are numerous 1st to 3rd order streams draining throughout the district.
Ground water is the principal source of water supply across the PARC communities and is generally under-developed. The ground water quantity available and quality can range across the region. There are a number of aquifers including a bedrock aquifer of Sandstone & Sand (Cretaceous Swan River Formation) and Odanah Shale. The overburden aquifer consists primarily of lenses of major & minor buried sand and gravel. Beach ridge sand and gravel aquifers formed by ancient beach deposits occur in the northeast corner of Gilbert Plains and run in a northwest direction through the RM of Ethelbert.
Surface water supply in the Mountainview Planning District is influenced by the physiographic area. Water levels on the major tributaries typically peak during spring runoff and after large storm events and then rapidly decline to base level. Wetlands and small water bodies occupy approximately 4.4% of the land area in the district.
The deep valleys and overburden in the western areas contain sand and gravel deposits that form aquifers, the water quality of which is rated as fair to excellent. The deep valleys cause low groundwater levels and strongly influence groundwater flow systems near the valleys. There are two kinds of aquifers. First, extensive sand and gravel aquifers are common at 50 m. (164 ft.) to 100 m. (328 ft.) below ground level in the southeastern and central portions. The yield of high capacity wells in these aquifers exceeds 20 Litres/second at some locations, with water quality ranging from poor to excellent. Second, the lenses of sand and gravel aquifers are the most common aquifers in the rest of the region. The depth to these aquifers ranges from 5 m. (16 ft.) to more than 50 m. (164 ft.). The yield of these aquifers generally is considered adequate to abundant for domestic and agricultural requirements, with water quality ranging from poor to excellent.
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