DUC & CPS announce forage incentive program for producers
Camrose, Alta. – Just when cattle producers, ranchers and landowners are finalizing their pasture and cropping decisions, the launch of this year’s forage incentive program offered by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and Crop Production Services (CPS) Canada promises to give producers an edge when balancing production costs with best land management practices.
This year’s forage incentive program facilitates purchases of Proven® Seed forage varieties from CPS with DUC underwriting seed costs up to $100 per 50 lb bag. This covers approximately 40 to 50 per cent of a producer’s seed investment. In return, the grower commits to keeping the land in perennial cover for 10 years and agrees not to drain the wetlands. It’s a win-win situation from many aspects, explains Craig Bishop, DUC’s forage program lead.
“The linkage between forage crops, such as alfalfa and other perennial grasses, and waterfowl productivity is well documented but often land use decisions can be influenced by commodity prices,” says Bishop. “For growers wanting to convert cultivated land to hay or pastureland, DUC’s forage incentive program eases the economic barriers associated with transitioning cultivated land to perennial cover while also improving nesting habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.”
Harold Reich, a Bashaw-area farmer, agrees with the program’s logic. In 2010, he converted some of his cultivated land to grassland, and subsequently restored wetlands on 55 acres of his property which improved the landscape’s productivity and biodiversity.
“I had a cultivated field adjacent to an alkali flat,” says Reich. “The land should never have been broken. While it produced reasonable crops in dry years, it was a total bust in wet years. Now that it has been seeded to grass, I’m assured of production every season.”
DUC’s forage incentive program is available to all producers wanting to plant forages within DUC’s priority delivery areas in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“We consider every request for engagement in the program but we are particularly interested in areas that have better-than-average existing perennial cover and high wetland densities,” says Bishop. “The reason for this is that small islands of perennial cover in cultivated areas act as traps to waterfowl–birds try to nest in these landscapes but are unsuccessful because there are few wetlands and predators can easily find and destroy nests.”
The forage program has also been adapted over time to better suit landowner needs. “We’ve learned that managed use of perennial cover provides considerable benefit to nesting waterfowl and is embraced by the agricultural community,” explains Bishop. “By working with landowners to develop their land, wetlands are conserved in a much more agriculturally-friendly way. This allows us to develop more meaningful partnerships with farmers and ranchers in areas where, previously, we purchased the land if we wanted to protect it. The forage program is much more amicable fit for everyone.”
For more information about the program, contact in 1 866 301 3825 in Alberta; 204 729 3507 in Manitoba; and 306 665 7152 in Saskatchewan.
DUC Forage program lead
780 668 0974