Ducks Unlimited shifts forage incentive for Manitoba

(Dave Bedard photo)

A program encouraging Prairie farmers to improve waterfowl habitat by flipping cropland into hayland or pasture will continue the same this spring, except in Manitoba.

The DUC/CPS forage program, offered by Ducks Unlimited Canada and Crop Production Services (CPS) Canada, will still see growers in Saskatchewan and Alberta get a rebate of $100 for each 50-lb. bag of CPS’s Proven Seed forage seed they buy.

For 2016, however, the program will see Manitoba growers get their rebates instead as a $50 payment per new forage acre seeded.

Craig Bishop, DUC’s regional forage lead, said in a release that grower response to the forage program so far this year has been very positive.

“Declining prices for wheat and other cereal crops, as well as a simultaneous increase in beef prices, are leading many landowners to seriously consider the move to increase their cattle herd,” he said Tuesday. “This, in turn, spurs a demand for increased forage.

Drought in 2015 led to “many poor hay crops in several areas and further motivated producers to convert additional land to forages,” he added. “That year, we saw 25,000 acres of cultivated fields across the Prairies be put into grass with this program with CPS — a significant increase from previous years.”

Research shows the level of waterfowl nesting and success is significantly higher in areas of perennial cover or grasslands than in cultivated fields, he said, and the program also helps with measures such as critical wetland restoration.

A program that covers about 40-50 per cent of a grower’s seed investment “is an extremely cost-effective means for increasing grassland and makes good agronomic sense,” he said.

The DUC/CPS forage program is best suited for producers in the parkland and prairie regions, DUC said. More information is available from CPS retailers or DUC conservation program specialists. — Network

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