How Alberta’s Farmers Are Fighting Climate Change With The On-Farm Climate Action Fund

No doubt we’ve all heard about climate change, and some have a better understanding of what it is. The common question we all have though, is what can we do about it? Canadian farmers make up 2% of Canada’s population and generate 8% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. While these numbers may seem small, all efforts matter to reduce the impacts on human, animal, and environmental health.

So what can we do? Enter: The On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) — a federally-funded program designed to help producers tackle climate change. RDAR is one of 12 national partners selected to deliver this program. OFCAF provides financial support to producers to accelerate the adoption of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and support increase production efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency on their farm operations.

What are Beneficial Management Practices?

Although it can seem like a mouthful, Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) are exactly what it sounds like: practices to help manage farm operations that will provide a variety of benefits to the land, producers, and the earth. As defined by the Government of Alberta, “a Beneficial Management Practice is any management practice that reduces or eliminates environmental risk.” While there are a variety of BMPs when it comes to agriculture, there are a few that the Government is focusing on to help producers garner the most impact: Nitrogen Management, Cover Cropping, and Rotational Grazing.

What is nitrogen management?

The presence of nitrogen is essential to farming in that is helps crops grow by providing essential nutrients. However, too much or too little nitrogen in the soil can have negative effects on people, crops, animals, and the earth, so it’s essential that an ideal balance of nitrogen is maintained.

The benefits of nitrogen management are two-fold — it supports food production while decreasing the negative effects on the climate.

What is cover cropping?

Cover crops are crops that are grown to benefit the soil, not to harvest for food. They help manage things like soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, and more.

Cover crops add organic matter to the soil and slowly introduce nitrogen into the soil so that other plants can utilize it at a more ideal rate. While cover crops are working hard below the surface, they’re also serving an important job above ground as well – acting as a protective cover for rain, snow, and wind, so that these instances have less direct damage to the soil.

What is rotational grazing?

When animals graze on a large field, they will typically ignore less enticing feed, leading to feed and financial loss for producers. Rotational grazing, on the other hand, refers to dividing a field into smaller paddocks so that animals are only grazing on one section of land at a time. After they have grazed one paddock for some time, they will be rotated to the next area for grazing. This also means that paddocks not being grazed are allowed to rest, regrow, and strengthen their root system, leading to less feedstock loss.

Rotational grazing has positive impacts on the land, animals, and earth.

Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about the OFCAF program, we invite you to join us at one of our informational webinars in early August. You can also visit the dedicated OFCAF page for more information, and subscribe to the OFCAF newsletter to receive program updates.