Forage groups join forces on soil health


In many ways, farm shows compete with other farm shows for attendance, sponsorships and the almighty dollar.

But three ag groups on the Prairies are taking a different approach.

The Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association, Saskatchewan Forage Council and the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing, in Alberta, are joining forces to promote each other’s events and activities.

“We figured we would do each other a service, by working more closely together,” said Duncan Morrison, MFGA executive director.

Last week, the organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the Prairie Region Soil Health Network.

“The pandemic has forced us to regroup and rethink how we can go forward as a regional-focused network that works for Prairie producers,” Morrison said in a press release. “With conferences and project collaborations aimed specifically at their core interests around soil health, regenerative agriculture and grazing systems on their Prairie farms.”

Interest in soil health and regenerative ag has spiked in the last few years, as more farmers are adopting practices like cover crops, intensive grazing and diverse crop rotations, which boost soil organic carbon, water retention and soil fertility.

More than 550 producers attended the Alberta Soil Health and Grazing Conference in 2019. MFGA’s Regenerative Agriculture Conference, in Brandon, has also attracted large crowds.

Co-operation between the provincial groups will hopefully expand interest in all soil health and regenerative agriculture events, Morrison said.

“We all agree that our events are important. We all agree we can work together and cross-promote… and help each other get the word out,” Morrison said, referring to the Memorandum of Understanding between the groups.

The Soil Health Network will also encourage more peer-to-peer connections between producers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Farmers who are interested in cover crops, intercropping and other practices, want to learn from their fellow producers, Morrison said.

“Farmers like hearing from farmers,” he said. “We really (want to) amp that up and try to make that happen.”