News from the Canadian Forage & Grassland Association
CFGA Quarterly Newsletter
Spring 2019
A message from CFGA chairman Chris Martin
The CFGA has been busy in the months since last November's annual meeting in Calgary. Most recently, several of us met in late March for an annual check-in on the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program. The AGGP is a key project for the CFGA. This particular meeting provides updates on the provincial AGGP projects going on across the country. It is valuable to know what everyone is working on, to see the progress being made with the AGGP projects and to look ahead for next steps.
 
CFGA board members are now looking forward to a CFGA manager meeting this summer in Manitoba. This will be the second time we have gathered in person like this and again it is a valuable way to check-in with each other.
 
The CFGA continues to foster existing partnerships and is always looking for new ones. As we plan for the next annual conference Nov. 12 to 15 in Moncton, N.B., we are rolling out new partner and sponsorship opportunities that we hope will bring in more like-minded individuals, organizations and corporations.
 
Speaking of the annual conference, planning is well underway and the agenda is pretty well set. Attendees are in for a treat during the pre-conference tour and are sure to learn a lot during the sessions. This truly is a not-to-be-missed event for everyone involved in the forage and grassland industry. I attend for the fabulous networking opportunities and enjoy meeting people. It has helped build my business. It's good for me to be there every year, to see what's going on and meeting new people; I always leave feeling encouraged and inspired.
 
It's a good time to be in the hay business with exports at an all-time high due to hay and straw shortages across the United States. We're heading into a busy time for producers and I wish you all a safe seeding time and summer.

Conference update
Don't miss the 10th annual CFGA conference
The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association's 10th annual conference,  Canadian Forage Production School, Eastern Edition , set for Nov. 12 to 15 in Moncton, N.B., will give the nation's farmers tools, information, advice, tips and tricks to make the most of their forage and grassland management and production.
 
The conference leads off with a pre-conference tour on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The tour departs from Moncton and will visit the 223-hectare Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Farm in Nappan, N.S. to look at research on cover crops, late-season grazing and bale grazing. The pre-conference tour will return to New Brunswick for stops at a Sussex-area beef farm before proceeding to Dwayne and Becky Perry's award-winning dairy farm, Perryhill Farms.
 
The technical working group also meets Nov. 12 as researchers gather to share knowledge on outcomes of their recent studies on forage and grasslands.
 
During the main event, Dr. Dan Undersander, expert on forage production, grazing, hay, haylage and silage making and Professor emeritus, agronomy at the College of Agricultural and Life Science, University of Wisconsin, will focus on the topics of harvesting for quality, mowing and drying, chopping and ensiling.
 
Other featured topics include a focus on corn. Speakers include Chuck Belanger of Maizex Seed Inc. speaking on the topic of corn fertility, Colin Brown of Corteva Agriscience discussing planting and Eric Richter of Syngenta diving into the subject of corn weed control.
 
Karen Haugen-Kozyra of Viresco Solutions will explain and explore the soil carbon in forage management during the conference as well. Haugen-Kozyra will reiterate the significant carbon sequestration benefits of perennial forage crops.
 
The export forage sector is on the schedule during the conference, with regions throughout Canada bringing their experience to the Moncton event to let farmers in eastern Canada know about the opportunities that exist for them as well. Among the topics on the agenda, the Peace Region Forage Seed Association will talk about how they've become a global powerhouse in forage seed export, and the Ontario Hay Marketing Co-Operative will discuss rotation options for export forage from Eastern Canada.
 
The Canadian forage export industry will also be the focus on Friday, Nov. 15 when industry leaders gather to discuss the latest concerns and events in their industry, as well as explore new opportunities.
 
Watch the CFGA Facebook Page for the launch of the 2019 CFGA Conference Website in the upcoming weeks, as well as CFGA's Twitter account.
AGGP update
Leaving the grass - and the carbon - in the ground
National project will show how forage and grassland owners can use high-performance management to boost yields and store carbon

by Trudy Kelly-Forsythe
In 2016, the Government of Canada announced the renewal of its Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program to help create technologies, practices and processes to help the agricultural sector adjust to climate change and improve soil and water conservation by developing new farming practices and methods. The CFGA assembled a group of stakeholders who developed a proposal to look at high-performance management systems to reduce greenhouse gases in Canada's forage and grasslands.

In February 2017, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada awarded the CFGA $656,000 over four years to support the project, which consisted of four major deliverables:
  • Complete a current state of science literature review
  • Develop a carbon-sequestration protocol for Canadian forage production systems
  • Develop a Best Management Practices guide for enhancing carbon storage in forage systems
  • Pilot the protocol on Canadian farms.
Alberta environmental consulting firm Viresco Solutions Inc. conducted the literature review, which was intended to link specific management practices to soil carbon-sequestration rates. However, in the complex world of greenhouse gas science things don't always work out as intended. The review revealed that the current state of the scientific understanding of the processes that drive soil conservation were not conclusive enough to tie sequestration rates to individual management practices.

The CFGA moved forward with the development of an 'avoided-conversion-of-grasslands protocol.' Viresco Solutions presented the draft avoided-conversion protocol document at the 2018 CFGA conference. Work continues on closing the research gaps and moving towards a practice-based protocol.

Work also continues on developing a BMP manual that highlights five forage BMP areas the CFGA has committed to focusing on following workshops at its annual conferences in 2017 and 2018. The BMP areas include:
  • Use of certified seed for highly digestible forage species and varieties
  • Intensive rotational grazing systems
  • Intensive forage harvesting systems
  • Forage stand establishment, fertility and management for high-performance yields
  • Advanced crop production systems for perennial and annual forages, including no-till cropping and cover crops.
"The new angle is we're adding carbon to the conversation," says CFGA executive director Cedric MacLeod. "Understanding that the concept of carbon, carbon storage and management, and working through the complex policy dynamic of the carbon market is largely foreign to a lot of farmers and ranchers, we wanted to take this opportunity to pull together some information on specific management practices that they can put to work on the farm and start to point folks in the direction of what that means in terms of policy."

A longer version of this article first appeared in Glacier Farm Media's 2019 Forage and Grassland Guide. You can read the full article here .
Forage research
There's a new branch-rooted alfalfa cultivar in town
by Trudy Kelly Forsythe
Canadian growers now have access to a new branch-rooted alfalfa cultivar that is tolerant to both drought and excessive moisture.
 
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada plant breeder Dr. Yousef Papadopoulos holding a sample of AAC Trueman alfalfa to show its branching root and  unique rhizomatous growth habit systems.
AAFC photo
AAC Trueman
Bred by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) plant breeder Dr. Yousef Papadopoulos at the Nappan Research Station in Nova Scotia, AAC Trueman is late flowering and winter hardy, which will help farmers grow a stronger, higher quality of hay, silage and forage for animal grazing.
 
"It is a more resilient alfalfa in extreme weather conditions that can withstand extended periods of dryness, wetness or flooding," says Papadopoulos. 
 
In addition to having deep roots that help it tolerate droughts, this new cultivar has a unique rhizomatous - below ground stems originating from the main crown - growth habit. This gives it the ability to develop into new plants that spread and fill in space to produce a dense forage stand. This in turn helps the crop survive in wet conditions.
 
"One of the major factors impacting plant death, and ultimately loss of alfalfa-based forage stands, is the susceptibility of plants to frequent flooding especially during fall, mid-winter and high water tables in the spring," says Papadopoulos.
 
Diversity rules
Variety trials over the years at four diverse locations in eastern Canada compared AAC Trueman to AC Caribou, a commonly grown alfalfa cultivar. Under flooding trials, it had a 50 per cent survival rate compared to an AC Caribou's eight per cent survival rate. As for yield, in the third production year, AAC Trueman yielded 110 percent.
 
"This hardiness benefits farmers economically in the long run while also providing better quality hay, silage and forage for animal grazing," says Papadopoulos.
 
A recent study co-funded by the Canadian Cattlemen Association that was initiated in 2011 and completed in 2014 saw researchers at the Nappan Research Farm assess the long-term agronomic performance and associated forage quality of AAC Trueman with all possible binary combinations of six grass species under a rotational grazing system. This included three commercially available cultivars from each grass species.
 
"The ultimate objective is to identify mixtures that enhance forage yield and nutritional quality throughout the grazing season but particularly during all regrowth periods following the initial grazing," explains Papadopoulos.
 
The results of the study identified the following superior cultivars having high regrowth herbage yield: Express timothy, Ginger Kentucky bluegrass , Kokanee tall fescue, Nortic orchardgrass, Mimer meadow fescue and AC Knowles meadow brome .
 
Papadopoulos says producers who plant AAC Trueman should follow the best management practices recommended for growing alfalfa in their regions. It's also important to grow AAC Trueman with grasses to optimize results.
 
While limited seeds may be available for the 2019 growing season, adequate supplies should be available for seeding in the spring of 2020.
Provincial organization news
MFGA Green Gold launches 2019 program
A long-running, alfalfa-monitoring program to help producers harvest high quality hay continues to march forward in Manitoba.

Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association (MFGA)'s Green Gold Program is launching year 24 of predicting "Hay Day" - the best cut date when harvested pure alfalfa stands are at optimum quality 150 Relative Feed Value. The potential boost to producer productivity is why MFGA continues to deliver this long-standing program, especially with the dairy hay market being so competitive.

"We want the best feed values being used provincially and within our dairy hay exports," says John McGregor, MFGA extension lead, and the long-time overseer of the Green Gold program. "When it comes to haying, Mother Nature is the biggest determining factor for good quality forage."

The key, according to McGregor, is understanding how quickly alfalfa quality in their field is dropping or where it is at any given point for producers to decide when to cut. As an example, if the forecast calls for rain in three days and a producer is aware that the alfalfa is at 180 and dropping five points per day, they have a choice of either cutting and putting the forage up right away at a quality above what they may want or they can wait and take up the forage at a quality that is slightly below what they were targeting.

Every May and June, McGregor leads a team of provincial staff and volunteer producers who clip samples from selected fields across Manitoba twice each week on Monday and Wednesday or Thursday and deliver them to Central Testing Laboratory in Winnipeg before 11 a.m. that day. Regional results are emailed to more than 500 producers and industry people, including alfalfas, dairy, beef and sheep producers, twice each week through McGregor. Results are also posted on the MFGA website and communicated via agricultural publications.

Lawrence Knockaert runs a dairy and beef operation near Bruxelles, Man.; sits on the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM) Board of Directors and serves as the DFM producer rep on the MFGA board. Knockaert uses the MFGA Green Gold Program to hone in on the best time for his first alfalfa cut.

"The thing I really like is the reports are current and really point out when we should do our first cut based on the highest feed value," says Knockaert. "It removes the guessing point for the producer, especially when it comes to varying weather and conditions. We know immediately when we should cut via Green Gold."
Deadline for nominations is July 5, 2019
Call for 2019 Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the CFGA and Pollinator Partnership are accepting nominees for the 2019 Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award. This award recognizes an individual or family in the farm and ranch community in Canada who has contributed significantly to pollinator species protection and conservation.

Pollinator Conservation Award winners support pollinators on their lands, engage in research and experimentation to increase the understanding of pollinator management techniques, work with community and government groups and serve as advocates for these little, but hard-working, species that maintain agricultural and natural landscapes.

2018 winner
Cody Straza and Allison Squires are the winners of the 2018 Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award at the NAPPC conference held in Washington, D.C., in October. Cody and Allison are the co-owners and operators of Upland Organics, a 2,000-acre certified organic grain farm near Wood Mountain, Sask.

Their vision is to create a family-orientated, environmentally and economically sustainable organic farming operation, which contributes in a positive and significant way to both the local community and the greater organic agricultural community. To this end, they are working towards converting their entire farm to no-till.

Upland Organics is a certified Bee Friendly Farm through Pollinator Partnership. They are one of the few large-acre farms in Canada to hold this certification.

2019 award
The recipients of the 2019 award will be recognized during an evening reception that opens the 19th Annual North American Pollinator Protection Campaign Conference, Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Washington, D.C., or in their hometown if they are unable to attend.

The award is intended to encourage conservation stewardship and catalyze future actions on behalf of pollinators through recognition and appreciation of these individuals and organizations. The deadline for nominations is July 5. More information and nomination forms are available on the Pollinator Partnership website
News in brief
Canadian producers are being recognized for their management practices on the farm and getting some great media coverage.
 
Earlier this year, Doug Gray and Bonnie Wilson of Piper Creek Farms won the 2018 Mapleseed Pasture Award from Mapleseed and the Ontario Forage Council. Read the full story on the Farmtario website.
 
Also, Steve and Amanda Sickle of Brant County received the Environmental Stewardship Award at the Beef Farmers of Ontario annual meeting. Read the full story here
 
Forage resources
The Beef Cattle Research Council has some great resources available on its website. Check out their blogs on forages.
Upcoming events
May/June 2019: MFGA Green Gold Program, across Manitoba.
29-30 mai:  Tournée des plantes fourragères 2019, au Centre du Québec. 
June 16-22: National Forage Week, American Forage and Grassland Council.   
June 20:  PRFSA Summer Tour: AAFC Beaverlodge Research Farm, Beaverlodge, Alta. Contact Talon or 877-630-2198.
June 20:  Manitoba Hay & Silage Day, MBFI, Brandon, Man. 
July 5: Deadline for nominations for 2019 Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award.
July 6: Ontario Forage Expo, Monkton, Ont.
July 16: Ontario Forage Expo, Oakwood, Ont.
July 16-18:  Regenerative Farming & Ranching Conference, MBFI, Brandon, Man.   
Aug. 10: MBFI Day, MBFI, Brandon, Man. 
Nov. 12-15: 10th Annual CFGA Conference: Canadian Forage Production School, Eastern Edition, Moncton, N.B.   
Feb. 25-26, 2020: Canadian Forage Seed Conference, Edmonton, Alta. 

More event listings:
Subscribe to
 the CFGA 
New sletter
STAY CONNECTED: