CFGA celebrates Earth Day every day

April 22 is Earth Day, an international initiative that sees individuals, municipalities and organizations take action to reduce their impact on the environment. In honour of Earth Day, the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) wants to share some of the value forages and grasslands provide to the environment as well as highlight some of the projects the CFGA administers throughout the year to help protect the earth.

Benefits of forages and grasslands

Perennial forage crops help reduce carbon because their root systems can store up to 2.7 times more carbon than annual crops. They sequester this carbon deep in the ground and, because less tilling is done on forage and grassland fields, slow the breakdown and release of carbon into the atmosphere.

Other environmental benefits of forages and grasslands include reducing nitrogen fertilizer costs (and the energy associated with applying nutrients), increasing soil quality, better controlling of soil erosion and improving water filtration and internal drainage.

Forages can also be used as a source of biomass fuel and biomaterials which can help reduce Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels. Grasslands and polycultures of perennial forage crops provide valuable habitat for diverse species of birds, pollinators, flora and fauna.

CFGA programs help the Earth

All of the CFGA’s programs play a role in protecting the environment. Here we will highlight three of them.

It’s Advanced Grazing Systems Program, for example, promotes rotational grazing which has a number of positive impacts across the Canadian landscape, including promoting biodiversity, sequestering carbon and improving the water cycle, all while boosting production.

The CFGA is also involved in the development of Habitat and Biodiversity Assessment Tools (HBAT). These province-specific online tools are designed for land managers to use for habitat and biodiversity assessment in order to gain a basic understanding of important habitats and biodiversity on their land. They also provide guidance on which beneficial management practices (BMPs) are most relevant to the habitats on their farms and help them integrate the needs of multiple native species in the management of the land.

Alfalfa is a key forage crop that producers rely on to capture and fix carbon, return nutrients to the soil and improve soil health. The CFGA was involved in two alfalfa management projects to develop valuable decision-support tools to help alfalfa crops thrive. You can read about the CASPP project here.

Learn more

You can learn more about these, and other CFGA projects, on the CFGA website.

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