There is an increasing interest in the link between soil health, plant health and ultimately food quality. Society is also concerned with carbon both in the air and soil. Since carbon and soil health are very closely connected, management practices which improve carbon sequestration will result in a healthy soil and nutritious food products.
Current Alberta Agricultural Carbon Offset protocols are based on rigidly defined conventional cropping practices. Producers seeking to improve their land and sequester carbon are excluded from these protocols if they do not comply with the defined practices. This is problematic. The practices of these protocols are not appropriate for all soil types and their rigid nature inhibits producers from adopting new methods or making land management decisions based on their specific lived experience. These limitations—and given that all nine million hectares of pastureland in Alberta are excluded from the protocols—greatly limits the effectiveness of Alberta’s agriculture-based carbon offsets to mitigate climate change.
As traditional rangeland uses continue to come under pressure from both climate change and tightening economic margins, development of alternative revenue streams is becoming increasingly necessary for livestock producers. Furthermore, production demands on rangelands will likely increase as global food demand continues to rise, placing additional ecological and economic stress on climate-weakened ecosystem. Rangelands provides valuable ecosystem services. Soil carbon (C) sequestration is the major ecosystem goods and services provided by rangelands. Conversion from rangeland to cultivated cropland and tame pasture has been shown to cause a loss of up to 50% of soil C, and this relationship is well established. Therefore, preserving native rangelands, and the C that they hold, likely represents the most economically efficient evaluation of soil C.
The Canadian Forage and Grasslands Association (CFGA) has received funding from the Canadian Federal Government through the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Program (AGGP) to develop and pilot a carbon reduction protocol built for High Performance Forage Management Systems in Canada. The Canadian Forage and Grasslands sector is the single largest land use component of Canadian agriculture covering over 70-million acres of cropland. Roughly 36-million acres are devoted to native rangeland, with the remaining 34-million acres dedicated to the production of annual and perennial tame forages, including 675,000 acres of corn silage.
Foothills Forage was interested in Carbon before it was cool!
FFGA hired an environmental consulting company to conduct a soil organic carbon monitoring project comparing soils under native range, tame pasture, and cultivation. This report presents methodology, results, conclusions, and recommendations based on the analyses of the data collected in 2006.
For cow calf producers in the prairies area, overwintering of cows is a major cost to the production system. Time and machinery costs are a major component of those overwintering expenses. Many attempts to reduce those costs have been successfully used by producers, bale grazing being one of those techniques and the focus of this project. Our study found bale grazing saves time, money, and boosts pasture productivity. Read More...
In 2015 near Acme, Alberta Foothills Forage conducted a swath grazing trial with three different blends. Blend 1: Oats, Barley, Peace Diverse Annual Mix. Peace Diverse Annual Mix - GRAZA Forage Radish, WINFRED Forage Brassica, HUNTER Forage Brassica, CORRINE Ethiopian Cabbage, Sorghum, Millet, Ryegrass, Hairy Vetch and Crimson Clover. Blend 2: Oats, Barley, Snow Peas, Peace Diverse Annual Mix. Blend 3: Peace Diverse Annual Mix. Read More...
Winter feeding is the largest cost in maintaining a cattle herd. There are many ways to extend the grazing season in Alberta through the use of stockpiled forages, crops and crop residues to reduce production costs. There has been
growing interest in the value of grazing standing corn as part of a winter feeding program. Read More...
While farm landscapes often lack the diversity and abundance of flowers that pollinators require, research has shown this trend can be reversed. To support pollinator communities within agricultural land, wildflower field margins provide a range of foraging habitats, with diverse, pollen and nectar-rich nutrition, as well as nesting and breeding areas.
Foothills Forage is participating in this project which includes 33 sites across Alberta. 2017 is an establishment year and we are hoping to do a tour of one of the sites in 2018 and keep with monitoring into the future.
Sainfoin - High Legume Pastures
As producers, we are very aware of the increased productivity, quality and nitrogen fixing benefits by including a high percentage of legumes in our pastures, however, the risk of bloat is a very real concern. This project includes 2 10-acre establishment and grazing trial of a sainfoin/alfalfa (60%) and grass mixture (40%) near Longview and Gleichen. This project is aimed to help producers to include higher levels of legumes in their pastures, resulting in increased production and decreased cost of production. Read More...
Perennial Forages Trial
This project will provide farmers and ranchers in Alberta with performance information on a number of grass and legume species and varieties. It will introduce cultivars which have been developed in recent years but have had limited regional evaluation. 32 species and/or varieties of perennial grasses and legumes have been selected for evaluation in 8 different regions of Alberta. Establishment, winter survival and yield will be monitored. Data from sites within the same ecoregions will be combined for a regional analysis, increasing the confidence in project results and recommendations.
What if you could control Canada Thistle without the use of chemical herbicides or tilling, resulting in the loss of your desirable forbs? Also known as Hadroplontus litura, the stem mining weevil was introduced from Europe to Canada in1965 and to the USA in 1970 to feed on Canada thistle. It is a biological control agent that attacks Canada thistle stems and rosettes. The weevil restricts its feeding to this weed and a few close relatives. It attacks rosettes of Canada Thistle in early spring, before the thistle bolts. Read More...