This column is about an upcoming event that food producers and consumers alike might want to attend: Cariboo Agricultural Research Alliance: Launch and Applied Research Workshop, Feb. 1, 2018, from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch provided) Pioneer Complex, 351 Hodgson Road, Williams Lake.
Recently I referred to some evidence in the U.S. that there has been a decline in the nitrogen in grasses and other plants that range animals browse. I am not aware of work done in Canada to see if this is true here in Canada.
There is a connection between the quality of the food grazing animals consume and the quality and quantity of meat they have on their carcasses when we harvest them.
READ MORE: Rejuvenating the family ranch
Why does this matter? Simply put, feeding the world will depend on conserving and stewarding the world’s agricultural resources in a manner that pays attention to the nutrient value of foods.
We need protein to build tissues. Not all land can produce vegetables which contain sufficient proteins. Land unsuitable for intensive agriculture (farming and gardening) can still support grazing animals.
The research in the U.S. that I referred to suggested that to keep up the production of meat, we might have to shift to better quality agriculture lands.
The problem with this is that we need all the best land for growing human food crops that can’t be grown elsewhere, i.e. on rangelands.
READ MORE: The joys and stresses of haymaking
This workshop is going to:
• Launch the Cariboo Agricultural Research Alliance (CARA). It will do knowledge transfer to producers as well as applied research;
• Share information regarding recent applied agriculture climate change adaptation research completed in the Cariboo, including topics such as soil health, vegetable crop trials, forage and range management, emerging pest issues, and more;
• Develop strategies to expand upon the research completed to date;
• Discuss and prioritize regional research needs;
• Introduce the province-wide BC Agricultural Climate Adaptation Research Network, and discuss how to contribute to the development of provincial research initiatives.
As you can see, this workshop is about all of agriculture in our region, not just the forage and livestock sectors.
However, livestock is our largest industry at this point, about 90 per cent, including forage production, which is forage for livestock.
Other sectors are important for the economy and for local food security.
While I am reporting on activities around forage production, two initiatives of the provincial government come to mind.
First, government has been working on analyzing the forage production on crown land. Results should be available in the year to come.
Second, government has a consulting project underway by Ferrence Weicker Co. to come up with an action plan for private land forage production. These results will also be available in the year to come.
These two action plans should work together.
Back to the Feb 14th workshop. If you would like to attend, please call Serena Black. CARA co-ordinator- sblack@industrial forestry.ca or call her at 250-564-4115 loc233.
Serena is also the manager of the BC Forage Council, as major partner in the Research and Extension Alliance.
David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.