Ale and Hilly Riedstra of Riedbow Dairy in Elm Creek have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to the local landscape, earning the 2024 Redboine Watershed District's 2024 Watershed Award. 
Immigrating with their three oldest children from the Netherlands in 1987, the Riedstra's brought Riedbow Dairy to life that same year with 25 milking cows. Now, the dairy has grown to 850 milking cows. 

Ale Sr., Logan Riedstra, Ale Jr., and Mason RiedstraAle Sr., Logan Riedstra, Ale Jr., and Mason Riedstra

According to the Redboine Watershed District, Ale, Hilly and their children worked hard over the years, and worked with the opportunities that were presented to them. The following is a rundown of the Riedstra's commitment to the local landscape, as submitted by the Redboine Watershed District.

In the early years they faced many challenges, with the lack of forage due to drought being the critical one. Because of this, Ale felt strongly about building a good inventory of feed so that when a bad year came around again with low forage production, they could change their feeding strategies and make it to the next year. Soil health and nutrient management became very important as this directly has an impact on forage production and quality. Having high quality forage, increases the performance opportunity of the Dairy Herd.


At Riedbow Dairy, they work closely with advisers in several different departments. They have a close relationship with their veterinarian to discuss animal health as well as a nutritionist that samples all their feed and inventories and formulates and balances a Ration that supplies the cattle with their daily requirements while optimizing performance. They utilize an Agronomist that takes soil samples and gives advice on how to optimize on farm nutrients and where to supplement fertilizer taking into account the crop nutrient requirements to optimize yield. They also work with the environmental sector, R.M of Grey and Water Stewardship on how they can best utilize farmable acres without having a negative impact in the local district.

Riedbow Dairy now milk 850 cows with Delaval VMS (voluntary milking system). This robotic system was installed in 2015 and allows the cows to be milked 24 hours a day as they please. As a result, milk production and cow health has improved and it has proven to be a positive and economic step towards the future.

Their commitment to having a positive impact in the watershed was evident when they purchased a quarter section that had included a sizeable wetland. The wetland had been illegally drained by the former owner and ordered by the province to be restored to its previous function. Riedbow Dairy understood they would be responsible at the time of purchase to cover the costs of the restoration and decided to go one step further.


With the help of Redboine Watershed District and Manitoba Drainage and Water Rights, a plan was developed to restore the six acres of wetland as mandated by the province, as well as increase the area of the wetland to over ten acres. The wetland would be controlled by a fixed crest weir that would maintain a set water level in the wetland while protecting the municipal road upstream from back flooding. The wetland would outlet into a large retention pond Riedbow Dairy would construct to provide water for their dairy operation to the north. Any excess water would be able to flow through the natural drainage channel east across the property.

The disputed area had been left to naturally reseed itself and it was agreed that altering the vegetated areas would be an unnecessary disruption to the re-established ecosystem. Earthwork in the wetland was kept to a minimum, removing enough of the illegal berm to satisfy the provincial requirements and constructing a new retention berm to the south to both maintain water in the recreated wetland while providing a physical barrier to prevent encroachment of the cultivated land.

The project was a resounding success, and not only increased the flood water retention capacity of the site, but also increased and improved the habitat area of the wetland ecosystem which provides space for dozens of native species to live and thrive while improving water quality to the dairy, in turn improving the health and productivity of the livestock. It also provides a working example of the benefits of cooperation between landowners and the Watershed Districts.

The Redboine Watershed District would like to congratulate Ale and Hilly and Riedbow Dairy on their commitment to the Redboine Watershed. They will be recognized at the Manitoba Association of Watersheds Annual Conference in Brandon in December.