News from the Canadian Forage & Grassland Association
CFGA Quarterly Newsletter
Spring 2020
Cedric MacLeod
Note from the executive director's desk desk
Cedric MacLeod

In our last newsletter, we updated the membership on the delivery of a successful annual conference in Moncton, N.B., which included the launch of the CFGA Nature Fund project, supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada.


We haven't stopped moving since!


I was pleased to represent the CFGA at a Grasslands Market Symposium in Calgary, Alta. Nov.19 and 20. The CFGA was invited to present on the various EG&S market development projects we have initiated, specifically the Canadian Grasslands Protocol supporting the avoided conversion of grasslands to annual crop production as a means of maintaining stored soil carbon in perpetuity.


Our next national engagement saw the Canadian Grasslands Protocol on the agenda for Biological Carbon Canada's AGM in Edmonton, Alta. The CFGA was asked to join the board and will work with industry partners around this table to advance awareness of the opportunity for Canadian grasslands to deliver nature-based solutions to climate change through grasslands maintenance on the agriculture landscape.


En route back east, we met in both Regina, Sask. and Winnipeg, Man. with government and industry representatives to explore the CFGA Nature Fund project deliverables, establish provincial steering committees and develop work plans through to March 31, 2021.


We held follow-up meetings with our Nova Scotia counterparts in mid-December to officially launch the east coast component of the initiative. This exciting project has been building steam through the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year and our project contractors continue to push forward on their respective deliverables. Stay tuned for updates on official launch dates for the EFP tool in the west and the delivery of an innovative Train-the-Trainer program piloted in Alberta in March 2020.


One of the highlights of February was the opportunity to attend the Nature Based Solutions to Climate Change Conference, Ottawa, Ont., Feb. 5 and 6. The conference brought a broad contingency of around 400 attendees from government and the conservation community together with forestry representatives, and a smaller delegation from agriculture. Canadian grasslands received considerable profile as a significant contributor to both soil carbon sequestration and wildlife biodiversity and habitat management. Numerous new contacts were made and project ideas developed. We continue to develop a number of project concepts and funding proposals based on these newly formed relationships.


Keeping up with significant interest in the Canadian Grassland Protocol and the opportunity to generate revenue through carbon offset sales, the CFGA attended the 2020 Canadian Forage Seed Conference in Edmonton, Alta. on Feb. 25 and 26. This was a welcome opportunity to interact with the Canadian forage seed production industry, discuss potential challenges and opportunities they face and further explore how forages on the landscape, destined for feed or seed, contribute to cropping system resiliency and the long-term sustainability of the Canadian agriculture production model. 


You'll notice a trend here for seizing opportunities as the CFGA travels out west and then back east.


I was very pleased to attend the 7th Native Prairie Restoration/Reclamation and 5th Transboundary Grasslands Workshops in Regina, Sask., Feb. 25 to 27. This was another excellent opportunity to liaise with government and conservation NGO representatives in discussions around engaging the producer community, evaluating grasslands EG&S values across the prairie region, maintaining and restoring grassland acres. The drive for progress and passion brought to the table by all those who attended the event was nothing short of contagious.


At this point, we were forced to embrace new models of hosting meetings with the onset COVID-19 travel restrictions in Canada. Not to be deterred from achieving our project deliverables we worked to:

  • Host a Train-the-Trainer workshops for Biodiversity and Habitat Management in Alberta for 40+ participants in association with the Applied Research and Extension Council of Alberta, who administer the Environmental Farm Plan process in the province
  • Participate in Grasslands Protocol Virtual Town Hall hosted by Biological Carbon Canada, attended by 70+ individuals from across Canada interested in the deployment of the Canadian Grasslands Protocol, either on their farm or ranch or through their NGO program work

Working from home since mid-March has proven to be bittersweet. Spending quality time with my young family has been a blessing, but creates its own unique challenges as many of you are well aware and currently working through. We have entered the 2020-2021 fiscal year with resolve to continue to deliver on the innovative projects that the CFGA has been awarded, and we have another handful of innovation in the hopper for funding consideration.


I do enjoy our phone chats and seeing you all on video conference, but certainly look forward to the day that we are once again able to greet one another with smiles and best wishes. Until then, be well friends, and never hesitate to reach out for a discussion.

Cedric MacLeod,
Executive Director, CFGA
CFGA gold sponsor
News from the Dairy Farmers of Canada
proAction highlighting dairy's commitment to responsible and sustainable farming
Millennials are now the largest cohort of Canadians and as they age, progress in their careers and start families, their purchasing power continues to increase. Yet when it comes to food products, millennial consumers view things differently than previous generations.
While millennial buying patterns are influenced by traditional factors like price, taste and convenience, the choices they make - products, brands or even support for an industry - are increasingly based on their value systems. Social considerations can trump all others. Research has shown, for instance, that millennials value animal welfare and the environment more than the health benefits of a product.
Helping consumers understand dairy
How is dairy adapting to this evolution in the marketplace? What role can proAction play in helping consumers better understand how our industry's values align with their own?
According to a recent study from Forrester in the U.S., seven out of 10 millennials actively consider a company's values when making a purchase, compared with just three out of 10 baby boomers. In Canada, research by Mintel (2019) found that millennials see brands as an extension of themselves, making them more attentive to ethical and environmental actions taken by those brands. That study found that more than half of millennials (51 per cent) and generation-Zs (52 per cent) choose brands that reinforce the image they want to portray, compared with just 22 per cent of baby boomers.
Why is this significant? It means that if millennials feel a category do
es not reflect values they espouse - like fighting climate change, for example - it can become a key factor in choosing whether to consume a product from that category.
Keeping pace with the generations
Long before they became part of the collective consciousness, environmental protection and animal welfare were fundamental to Canadian dairy farmers' values . But public perception has not always kept pace due to the rising spread of misinformation about dairy consumption and the production process. In order to build further support for dairy, we must ensure that dairy farmers' commitment to a sustainable production is well understood by millennial and generation-Z consumers so that it doesn't clash with their value system, but rather, comforts them.
DFC's proAction program is crucial in that regard. The values of Canadian dairy farmers alreadyalign with the values of today's consumers, and proAction provides the proof points to that effect.
"Millennials want to know what is in the food they eat and where it comes from," says Pamela Nalewajek, vice-president, marketing at DFC. "They want to know that it was produced in a manner that is ethical and socially responsible, by producers that care just as much as they do about the resources utilized to produce it. proAction is crucial because it allows us to highlight our practices for consumers who are less trustful of claims, in a way that is credible and transparent."
Reframing for today's consumers
The robust requirements of the proAction program bolster DFC's communication of the industry's long-standing values. The comprehensive marketing initiatives and nutrition programs undertaken by DFC and its provincial counterparts are working to reframe dairy for today's consumer, by countering misconceptions and highlighting the positive impacts of dairy. DFC's 2019 marketing campaigns featured real farmers discussing their commitments to animal care, sustainability and milk quality, and addressing consumer concerns around artificial growth hormones and antibiotics.
In 2019, DFC was recognized by Unilever, one of the world's largest multinational companies for its commitment to sustainable dairy production. This was an
 acknowledgment of Canadian dairy farmers' stewardship of their animals and the environment, and efforts to produce high-quality, safe and nutritious food for consumers - and would not have been possible without a program like proAction.
This kind of recognition from objective, respected sources gives even further weight and credibility to DFC's marketing and communications efforts.
The industry's commitments also form the basis for the Blue Cow logo now featured on more than 7,600 Canadian dairy products. Awareness of the logo is at an all-time high with four out of five Canadians - nearly 20 million people - being familiar with the logo.
The Blue Cow resonates with consumers because they want to know which products are made with Canadian dairy and the logo offers them clarity. But beyond an affinity for Canadian-made product, the logo is emblematic of the dairy industry's commitment to excellence, and it's crucial to demonstrating the value of Canadian dairy farmers and their products to consumers. If proAction serves as the dairy industry's quality assurance program, the Blue Cow logo serves as the stamp of approval.
Export news
Eastern Canadian hay producers find high value export markets
Competitive transport rate and high tech shipping help drive the demand
by Trudy Kelly Forsythe
The American equestrian competition sector is proving to be one of the most lucrative markets for hay producers to tap into. Eastern Canadian hay producers in particular have a strong advantage.
One reason for this, according to Alex Christensen, president and CEO of Southeast Hay Distributors in Florida, is competitive trucking rates from Ontario and Canada.
"An intra-transport move from Michigan to Ohio or Florida would be more expensive in comparison to something out of Toronto to Florida," he said when speaking to forage producers from across Canada at the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association's 2019 annual conference in Moncton, N.B., last fall.
Another reason is advances made by Canadian producers in equipment and technology for handling and shipping hay. New bale compression systems, bale packaging systems and bale drying systems make it easier for producers to get their products from the field to the market.
"What we're seeing is high quality Eastern Canadian forage being something people are actually asking for," said Christensen. "I love hearing that because for me I know we can get the product quickly from Eastern Canada, I know that it's going to be consistent and I know that a lot of producers are packaging their products for ease of handling."
Meeting the demands for consistency and high quality is very important to people in the equestrian competition sector.
"They want to know that what they are feeding is the absolute best that the feed store or local market has to offer," Christensen said. "That's why people focus so much on South Florida, because there's hardly any hay that's grown there that people from up North or from Europe are going to feed."
Christensen gave producers the following advice for marketing to the United States:
Think like Amazon
Christensen said hay producers as an industry need to get ahead of what the consumer market is doing. Today that means recognizing that we live in a time where people are accustomed to two-day delivery.
"We have consumers who are so accustomed to using services like Amazon Prime, it's something everyone has adapted to and we need to keep up with that," he said, adding Eastern Canada is perfectly aligned to do this. "You can get your product with a team driver from any eastern province to Florida, the furthest away shipping destination for the eastern United States, within two days. That's something we need to focus on capitalizing."
Have an online presence
It's also important to have an online presence when it comes to selling forage products. "Everyone wants to be educated now on the product they are buying, but the hiccup is they don't want to talk to us," said Christensen. "More than ever people want to look at your product and they want to look at it online and they want to get all the facts."
He recommends putting as much information together for potential customers to access, starting with a website. "Consider looking at forage analysis. They're not expensive, so consider doing that on your first and second crop and trying to look at other ways you can furnish as much information using an electronic platform."
CFGA gold sponsor
News from Kemin
Making high quality baleage
by Eugene Rodberg, Kemin Industries
Individually wrapped, high-moisture alfalfa bales, often called baleage, have been around for a long time. The ability to cut hay in the morning and store the hay in a tightly wrapped package before rain reduces forage quality is extremely appealing. Not only does baleage offer risk management against weather, the increased palatability of baleage also results in less waste compared to dry hay especially when fed in round bale feeders.
There are many considerations when attempting to make high quality baleage. One aspect is bale density. Recent research at Penn State University helps producers understand the importance of making dense bales. This study evaluated balers set to bale at maximum density traveling at three different speeds 3.2, 4.8 and 6.4 kilometres an hour (4, 8, and 12 miles per hour). Bales were wrapped within four hours after baling at a minimum of 6 mil of wrap on each bale to exclude oxygen and control heating.
After 28-days of storage, the research team found bale density directly impacted baleage quality. Across all speeds, the greater the bale density, the lower the pH of the bales (Figure 1). This indicates proper fermentation of the sugars available under anaerobic conditions. As forages ferment, anaerobic bacteria convert sugars to acids during the fermentation process. A low pH is desired to help increase storage time, reduce mould and wild yeast growth and reduce forage heating during feed out.
An additional challenge for producers when trying to make high quality baleage, fermentation is slower than other silage. There is less sugar available for growth of lactic acid producing bacteria in baleage, resulting in a longer period of fermentation. During this extended fermentation, mould and wild yeast growth reduces the quality and quantity of the forage.

A research team at Kemin Industries completed an evaluation using Silage SAVOR® Liquid silage preservative on baleage of approximately 40 per cent moisture (60 per cent dry matter). Silage SAVOR Liquid is a blend of organic acids, formulated specifically to reduce mould and yeast growth in ensiled crops. Treated bales received an application of 500 grams of the organic acid blend per ton of hay (approximately 830 grams per ton of dry matter). After a 40-day fermentation period, each bale was weighed and dry matter retention was calculated. Core samples were taken from each bale and samples were sent to a laboratory for analysis of fermentation properties including pH, lactic acid, acetic acid, propionic acid, ammonia-N and total acids.

Dry matter retention is one measure of how well bales were preserved. Dry matter retention was better for the treated baleage when compared with the untreated bales (Table 1).
Not only was dry matter retention enhanced with application of Silage SAVOR Liquid, but other fermentation parameters improved (Table 2). By controlling the growth of non-beneficial mould and wild yeast, the application of the blended organic acid reduced competition for lactic acid-producing bacteria, resulting in a more complete fermentation.
The use of Silage SAVOR Liquid improved the fermentation characteristics of alfalfa baleage. Silage SAVOR Liquid improved lactic acid and total acid levels over the untreated baleage. Therefore, the use of Silage SAVOR Liquid should provide a forage producer with superior fermentation of alfalfa baleage.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has an excellent website with more information on making high quality baleage. In summary, they have eight major recommendations:
  1. Make baleage out of high-quality forage - mature forage will not ferment as well as young crop
  2. Make dense bales - as noted above
  3. Bale at the correct moisture - bale at 40 to 55 percent moisture for best fermentation.
  4. Use enough plastic - wrap tightly with six layers for 6 mil plastic film
  5. Wrap soon after baling - time is critical, wrap bales within two hours of baling
  6. Location, location, location - find an area free of hay stubble to prevent tearing
  7. Moisture migration - set bales in a north-south direction to minimize condensation
  8. Plastic repairs - quickly repair any damage to the plastic from wildlife
High quality baleage is an excellent addition to any cattle ration. However, making high-quality baleage requires the same attention to detail required for any forage. By addressing each of these steps, you can make better baleage this year, and every year.
Provincial association news
New Brunswick Soil and Crop Improvement Association
General news and research update

by Zoshia Fraser, NBSCIA agro-environmental club agrologist
The New Brunswick Soil and Crop Improvement Association held its 41st Annual General Meeting in Woodstock N.B. Feb. 20 and 21. Over 80 people attended the successful event. On day one of the AGM, attendees saw two presentations from keynote speaker Brendon Rockey, a potato farmer from Colorado. His presentations focused on regenerative agriculture and soil building in the potato production system. Stephanie Arnold from the UPEI climate lab also gave a presentation on climate change.
The evening of the 20th was spent celebrating some excellent farmers from across the province. NBSCIA had six outstanding farm of the year candidates in 2019. Special congratulations to Camerises Laplante Ltée and Côté Brothers Potato Co. Inc. the inaugural Farm of the Year, candidates for the North East and North West clubs! Congratulations as well to the other nominees: Connor's Farms (Central), Lonsview Farms Ltd. (Kings) a nd R & B Dykstra & Sons Ltd. (Moncton) but, ultimately, Verger Belliveau Orchard, Chignecto Soil and Crop's nominee, walked away with the 2019 title.
The night also saw two very deserving individuals receive dedication awards for their services to NBSCIA: Ray Carmichael, one of NBSCIA founders, the inaugural president and current day Carlton co-ordinator; and Maarten Van Oord, a past provincial and Central Club president and mainstay in the N.B. agriculture community. The NBSCIA thanks both for their service to not only NBSCIA but to N.B. agriculture as a whole.
Day two saw more great presentations on a range of topics including climate change, soil health and biomass crops. It also included an update on the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association and the avoided conversions of grasslands protocol from CFGA executive director, Cedric MacLeod.
Resolutions on lime support, land use policy and weather data passed at the business meeting and a financial report revealed the organization is back in the black for the first time in several years.
The NBSCIA thanks its outgoing general manager, Leigha Beckwith, for all her work to stabilize the organization. Those remaining at the NBSCIA say they will certainly miss her leadership but wish her luck as she starts her tenure with New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries.
Research update
NBSCIA sponsored a number of research and demonstration projects in 2019 with funding by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership program including forage variety evaluation and management trials led by NBSCIA agrologists Leigha Beckwith and Ray Carmichael.
Following is a summary highlighting key results from the project:
An extremely dry growing season in 2018 and widespread winter kill in 2019 left N.B. livestock producers scrambling to find crop options that would provide them enough feed for their animals. Management of annual crops or mixtures to re-establish winter failure or compensate for drought and weather extremes caused by global warming will become critical to N.B. livestock producers.
One of the objectives of this project was to evaluate the role of annual forage species and cereal (oats, barley) companion crops as emergency forage options on N.B. livestock farms. Annual species including as corn silage, forage pearl millet, sorghum-sudangrass, Italian ryegrass, Tef, forage oats and peas, and forage soybeans were established in replicated plots at the Richmond Corner site to assess their ability to provide a high yielding and high quality source of feed in a single season following challenging growing conditions. The parameters of evaluation were wet yield, dry matter yield, protein, NDF and NDF digestibility.
The dry matter for each species is illustrated in Table 1. Values followed by the same letter are not significantly different. The exceptionally dry climactic conditions at the site during the 2019 growing season had a negative impact on establishment and growth of the late season group compared to the corn, soybean, oat and peas. Although corn silage provides the most dry matter yield per hectare, the most practical options for most livestock producers is probably oats or oat/pea mixture underseeded to a perennial forage mixture for subsequent years.  See page 18 - 24 of the NBSIA 2019 annual report for the complete report .
CFGA Gold Sponsor
News from Kubota
Feeding your forage
by Travis Grubb
It's springtime and time to start thinking about feeding your forages. What products are you going to use? When will you apply them? And, above all else, how are you going to apply them?
These are all major questions each producer should ask themselves before getting to their fields.
The application timings your crop advisor recommends will depend on several factors such as crop type, manure applications, existing soil test levels and productivity. Generally, with forages there are three to four timings, depending on the number of cuttings. These include:
  • prior tocrop growth in the spring
  • after each cutting
  • prior to, or at, dormancy in the fall
The crop you apply it to, when you apply it and what you apply are important considerations, in addition to what to apply it with - even for forages.
There are several options out there when it comes to how to spread. You could hire a custom operator to airflow it, use a rental spreader or even use your own. If you haven't considered owning a spreader it might be something to look at. Rental spreaders are often available with the purchase of fertilizer, but they are not always calibrated or the performance suffers due to inadequate maintenance - a quick power wash at the end of each day makes a big difference. It can also be very difficult to track or reduce your overlap, which increases costs and reduces the effectiveness of the seed or fertilizer.
Kubota spreaders offer flexibility by spreading everything from fertilizer to seed, all at various rates and working widths. They range from the entry level VS Pend
ulum type to DSM Disc models to fully equipped with section control and the ability to apply variable rates found in the GeoSpread units. Contrary to popular belief, sprayers and seeders are not the only machines capable of section control. Kubota spreaders offer the potential for significant savings on your inputs by putting the fertilizer only where you need it.
Have you ever wondered whether you already went over a certain part of the field? Today, with the help of GPS technology, this is eliminated. When combined with the RotaFlow system, fertilizer can be applied in as small as three-foot sections for very accurate
 distribution. The built-in weighing system helps monitor flow and field conditions to ensure the right amount of product is being applied continuously. It may all sound complicated, but they are very easy to set up and use. When you consider the cost of fertilizer and the amount of trips over the field you do during the year, you might want to ask, can you afford not to own your own spreader?

For more information on Kubota spreaders, please visit or your local Kubota dealer.
Provincial association news
Peace Region Forage Seed Association
Canadian Forage Seed Conference: Leadership in industry recognized
by Talon Gauthier, PRFSA general manager
Several leaders were recognized for their tremendous contributions to the Canadian forage seed industry at the Canadian Forage Seed Conference on Feb. 25 and 26.
The first award was presented to Dr. Nigel Fairey who worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a forage seed scientist from 1981 to 2007 at the AAFC Beaverlodge Research Farm. Forage seed grower, Arthur Hadland, from Baldonnel, B.C. presented Dr. Fairey's award.
The second award was presented to Weldon Hobbs, co-owner of MR Pollination Services, with his wife BJ, from Lethbridge, Alta. Weldon has been involved with alfalfa seed and leafcutter bee production since 1962 and has always been active in the Southern Alberta Irrigated Alfalfa Seed Associations as well as Canadian associations. Heather Kerschbaummer provided a thorough and heartfelt presentation to Weldon.
The third and final award presentation of the conference was given to Heather McBey, office administrator for the Manitoba Forage Seed Association. Heather has been influential in many areas of the Canadian industry, but specifically pulls the whole industry together through managing the compilation of the Forage Seed News which goes out to every forage seed grower in Canada. Forage seed specialist Calvin Yoder presented Heather with her leadership award.
Thank you to our CFGA partners
Upcoming events
At the time this newsletter was distributed, all event times and locations were accurate, but please check event websites for the most current information. Some events may have been postponed or cancelled.
May 19:  SK PCAP Native Prairie Speaker Series Webinar: Grasslands Songbirds

Nov. 16-20:   CFGA annual conference , Kamloops, B.C.

Nov. 23-25:  Regenerative Ag Conference , Brandon, Man. 
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