New initiative focuses on forage research, environmental stewardship

A multi-level agreement to revitalize forage research and education has been reached in Alberta.

The Alberta Beef, Forage and Grazing Centre agreement is a five year deal between Alberta Beef Producers, Agriculture Canada and Alberta Agriculture.

ABP is providing $25,000 a year for this initiative, funds permitting, while both levels of government will offer personnel and facilities to develop the virtual centre.

“There is no direct money from the government, but they are contributing expertise through staff,” said Karin Schmid, a beef production specialist with ABP.

“They are reallocating staff time, which is significant.”

The proposal replaces the Western Beef Forage Group, which dissolved and left a gap in research.

“The idea is to try and co-ordinate the forage and beef research across the province,” said Schmid.

A management committee from producer groups and the two levels of government will be formed to start co-ordinating work.

Much of the research and extension expertise is located at Agriculture Canada’s Lacombe Research Centre, but other locations and partners could also be involved.

The concept is to improve the forage-beef system’s productivity, competitiveness, sustainability and land and resource use efficiency by:

  • building and maintaining re-search and extension capacity
  • reducing backgrounding and winter feeding costs by 50 percent
  • reducing the cow herd’s environmental footprint and cow efficiency by 15 percent
  • improving late summer-fall pasture productivity by 30 percent.

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