SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. — Producers who planted native grass under a federal incentive program several years ago would do so again, according to a survey assessing the former Greencover Canada Land Conversion program.
Craig Gatzke, resource technician at Agriculture Canada’s Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Sask., said the small survey examined why producers seeded native species and how they used them.
He said he was surprised to learn that 58 percent would plant it again, even though seed costs are higher.
The nation-wide program ran from 2003 to 2008 and offered financial incentives to seed either tame or native forage on environmentally sensitive land. Producers agreed to establish and maintain perennial cover for at least 10 years.
The program paid $75 per acre to seed native forage, plus a one-time $25 per acre payment once an in-spection determined the stand was established.
The incentive for tame forage was $20 per acre, as well as the $25 per acre establishment payment.
Far more landowners used the program to seed tame forage, but Gatzke said this was the first program to promote native grass as a viable alternative by offering a higher financial incentive.
The survey focused on Saskatchewan’s brown soil zone, in which 28 producers undertook 76 projects. Nineteen producers were surveyed, representing 58 projects and a total of 6,970 acres.
Most of the farms were mixed or beef operations, and the median operation size was 6,773 acres.
The vast majority of those surveyed said they chose to seed native forage to extend or improve grazing opportunities. Fifty-eight percent said they wanted to improve marginal land.
“When asked, ‘would you have seeded native grass without the program,’ 68 percent said no,” he told the Foraging into the Future conference.
- Canada had 5,515 projects totaling 512,920 acres
- Saskatchewan accounted for 2,855 of the projects and 290,564 acres.
- Canada had 261 projects totalling 27,698 acres
- Saskatchewan accounted for 166 projects for 17,624 acres.