GHGMP News Releases

Manitoba producers learn to make the most of forages

Brandon, Man., July 13, 2005

Manitoba producers will have opportunity to learn more about a range of new crop production techniques once results are available later this year from several demonstration projects showcasing forage crops, winter cereals and nutrient management techniques.

The demonstration plots established across the province include direct seeding forages to establish or rejuvenate perennial grass and legume stands, extensive forage variety trials, fine-tuning fertilizer application rates, and greater use of winter cereals as a forage source.

A producer field day of the plots was held in early July, but any farmers looking for specific information on the demonstrations can contact the Manitoba Zero Till Research Association (MZTRA) farm north of Brandon with specific questions.

The demonstrations were organized in a joint effort involving producer organizations and the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program (GHGMP) for Canadian Agriculture explains Marla Riekman, provincial co-ordinator of the GHGMP in Manitoba.

Riekman is carrying on the projects established by Michelle Erb who served as co-ordinator earlier this year. Riekman is also the MZTRA farm and extension manager.

"The demonstrations are intended to raise producer awareness of improved production techniques that not only enhance forage, cereal and oilseed crop production, but also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says Riekman.

Producing more forages and related production practices helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions in several ways. Vigorous forage stands have potential to capture and convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it as carbon in the soil and plant tissue. This creates what is referred to as a "carbon sink."

As well, forages make use of surplus soil nutrients, reducing the risk of excess nitrogen being lost to the environment through the process known as denitrification. And establishing more perennial crops reduces the number of annually cropped acres. That means fewer field hours for tractors and other power equipment and reduced use of fossil fuels that also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The soils sector of the federal Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program for Canadian Agriculture is administered by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada. For a more detailed article on the 2005 demonstrations and other projects visit the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program Web site at

The Manitoba demonstrations include projects by The Woodworth Grazing Club in northwest Manitoba, which used a direct seeding drill to establish or rejuvenate forage stands. The Northwest Livestock Foundation is planning a series of workshops and seminars focused on improved forage management practices such as pasture health evaluation and rotational grazing.

As part of the 2005 program, the Manitoba Forage Council has established dozens of new forage variety trails, as well as demonstrations showing the potential to use winter cereal crops such as winter wheat, winter triticale and fall rye for use as silage crops.

Two other GHG demonstration projects will look at nitrogen timing and requirements in grain and oilseed crops. One project is co-ordinated through the Agassiz Soil and Crop Improvement Association, and the other is part of Manitoba Agriculture's soil fertility work.

For more information on the 2005 Manitoba projects contact Marla Riekman at (204) 725-3939.

For more information, contact:

Marla Riekman
GHGMP co-ordinator
Brandon, MB
Phone: (204) 725-3939

Doug McKell
Executive Director
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Indian Head, Sask.
Phone: (306) 695-4212