GFM Network News


The new $70-million grasslands conservation effort will allow hundreds of Prairie ranchers to do projects on their land, says Tamara Carter, a Saskatchewan producer recently hired as the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s director of prairie grassland conservation.

Grasslands conservation effort gets $70-million boost

Major grasslands initiative to fund 800 stewardship projects across the Prairies

Reading Time: 4 minutes There have been a lot of grasslands conservation efforts, but none as large as the Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative. Five organizations are being given nearly $25 million by the Weston Family Foundation for what may be the largest grasslands conservation effort ever in Canada. And each of the five groups will be committing additional […] Read more

Native grass prairies and sunset

Grasslands Conservation Guide available

Reading Time: < 1 minute Birds Canada has produced a 69-page guide to help landowners learn more about financial incentive programs available to preserve, enhance, or restore grasslands and important prairie habitats. The guide outlines available programs, including ones available in Alberta. Some offer funding for projects while others offer assistance in protecting habitat and species that rely on grasslands. […] Read more


The Coen family has strategically placed ditches that were excavated to create swales for capturing snowmelt, that either slowly soaks into the land or is captured in a series of small dams.

Innovative farmers ‘harvest’ water to boost production

Coen Farm created shallow ditches called swales to capture millions of gallons of snowmelt each spring

Reading Time: 3 minutes This winter, you might want to harvest something a little different on your farm — water. “Our farm harvests 40 years of water in two weeks just from snowmelt,” said Takota Coen, who farms near Ferintosh with his parents. “We live in one of the only places in the world where you can actually increase […] Read more

Grasslands make great carbon sinks when grazed properly, says a new University of Alberta study.

Making rotational grazing the norm would be a ‘win win,’ says study

If all of Alberta’s grasslands were rotational grazed, 1.2 million tonnes of carbon could be sequestered every year

Reading Time: 4 minutes Grazing your cattle just a little differently could be a win win for your operation and the environment, says a new study from the University of Alberta. “The idea is to evaluate alternative grazing systems to see which ones are best and which ones maximize the sequestration and storage of carbon,” said ecology professor, Mark […] Read more


There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to grazing management, says range management specialist Ross Adams. Shown here are cattle grazing south of Pincher Creek earlier in July.

Taking a fresh look at your land, cattle and grazing system

Range management principles are ‘fairly simple’ but applying them depends on local conditions

Reading Time: 4 minutes You might think you know your land inside and out, but getting back to basics can improve pasture productivity. “It’s important to look at this basic stuff because it helps tune the eye,” said Ross Adams, range management specialist with Alberta Environment and Parks. “It’s easier to integrate livestock into the system if you understand […] Read more

Forage mixes generally include species from four different categories — warm-season broadleaf plants and grasses along with cool-season broadleaf plants and grasses.

Pick the right forage for productivity and profitability

Productivity in many Alberta pastures is so low it ‘doesn’t pay a lot of bills,’ says forage specialist

Reading Time: 3 minutes There’s an elephant in your pasture. “The elephant is disappointment,” said Grant Lastiwka, forage specialist with Union Forage. “When you start to look at the average, Alberta hay yields are around 1.3 tonnes per acre across the province. That’s a low number. “When we look at pasture, all we’re getting in grazing days across many […] Read more


Pasture management is a mix of art and science, but having “some hard numbers on what your pastures are capable of” is a big help, says Tara Mulhern Davidson.

Carrying capacity: You gotta know if it can hold ’em

Overgrazing can really hurt productivity, so it pays to know how many cows you can put on a pasture

Reading Time: 3 minutes Struggling with finding the right amount of cattle to graze on a pasture or not sure how many cattle a new rented pasture will hold? The Beef Cattle Research Council now has a calculator to help you with that. There are four basic principles of range management: Balancing forage supply and demand; managing for uniform […] Read more

Annual forages offer benefits, says forage specialist

Annual forages offer benefits, says forage specialist

Annual pastures allow you to properly rest their perennial cousins and can be used for silage or greenfeed

Reading Time: 2 minutes Annual forages offer a couple of advantages for producers, says a provincial forage and beef specialist. “By seeding annual pastures, producers can give stressed perennial pastures a rest,” said Karin Lindquist. “If those pastures are rested early in the spring and following rain, they can produce good amounts of growth later in the summer. However, […] Read more


Don’t wait for patches to appear in hayfields or pastures, say experts. Instead, start doing plant counts and check the root system as
soon as they begin to green up.

Many pastures took a beating this winter, so scout early

Conduct plant counts as soon as pastures and hayfields start to green up, say forage experts

Reading Time: 4 minutes Cold, wet conditions through the fall and winter were the right recipe for winterkill in alfalfa pastures across the Prairies. “With climate change, the risk of forage stands being injured or killed by environmental stresses is predicted to increase,” said Bill Thomas, owner of BT Agronomy in Truro, Nova Scotia. “Just in the last month, […] Read more