During the session, Living Lab BC – Extended Grazing Season and Winter-Feeding strategies, Serena Black from the BC Forage Council (BCFC) presented a diversified approach to best management practices (BMPs) in British Columbia. 

The BC Cattlemen’s Association and BCFC came together to look at B.C.’s agriculture to develop a list of BMPs to use in a potential program.  The Investment Agriculture Foundation (IAF) is leading the project. IAF delivers programs and services to support a thriving agriculture and agri-food sector in B.C. They surveyed 28 producers to prioritize certain BMPs and organize them into themes. 

The BC Cattlemen’s Association hosted two producer-research workshops that identified which project themes were of the highest interest and relevance. The goal was to fill the gaps in producer questions, expand on existing knowledge, recognize barriers for adoption and discover potential impacts.

The verdict was to extend the grazing season and develop winter feeding strategies. 

Last year, because of weather events like the BC heat dome and flooding, many went into winter feeling the pressures of climate change with forage shortage and a big need for extended grazing. 

Four BMPs to be trialed: 

  • Annual and alternative forage cover crops for fall and winter grazing
  • Standing crops for winter grazing
  • Fall cover crops for fall or spring grazing
  • Bale grazing 

The research design contains two mother sites where all four BMPs will be trialed and two daughter sites where two BMPs per site will be trialed. BMP use will differ based on location, crop rotations and the amount of BMPs being used simultaneously as well as a variety of other factors.

Project development components 

To develop a functioning BMP program an analysis of suitability takes place along with the development of resources to help producers implement BMPs and self-assess the outcomes and the development of regional forage information to address forage deficit needs. To achieve this, a five-year timeline to collect data will occur. This is ideally a 10-year program on a five-year funding cycle. 

The collection of data on climate measurement will be done through local weather stations and soil probes. The collection of economics will establish unit cost of production of BMPs and assess potential changes in carrying capacity and implications of BMP implementation. 

Five-year timeline overview:

  • Year one –, IAF and partners will set up partnerships and figure out baseline info
  • Year two – IAF and partners will install the mother sites, collect data, monitor engagement and test and refine information sharing databases
  • Year three – IAF and partners will install the additional daughter sites
  • Years four and five -  IAF and partners will maintain data collection through the next two years

Conference 2023

The CFGA is excited to announce that its 14th annual conference will take place Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 in person in Harrison Hot Springs, BC. This year’s conference theme is Forage Resilience in a Changing Landscape: Manage risk. Overcome challenges. Discover opportunities and we look forward to delivering the interesting and informative sessions the CFGA conference is known for. Please save the date to join us as we learn about issues facing the forage sector and how they overcome these challenges, as well as take a look ahead to opportunities. Watch the CFGA conference website for more information.

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