Environmental Goods and Services: More Questions than Answers

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


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The beef industry takes pride in how forage, grazing and beef production benefit the environment. These environmental goods and services (EG&S) include carbon sequestration, plant and wildlife habitat, reduced soil erosion, watershed recharging, scenery, etc. While consumers pay for beef, the EG&S are free.

For instance, many ducks need grasslands and wetlands to nest and raise their young. Grasslands and wetlands also act like a sponge that absorbs excess moisture in wet years. A lot of grassland has been cultivated and/or wetlands drained to grow crops. This may have contributed to overland flooding and crop losses in recent wet years. If producers had been paid to preserve these grasslands and wetlands in recognition of the EG&S they provide (i.e. wildlife habitat and flood mitigation), would there have been fewer flood compensation payments? Continue reading

Questioning the beef industry’s water use

April 22nd is Earth Day. Earth Day is recognized globally by people from all walks of life as a way to foster environmental respect and celebrate conservation.


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Cattle producers across Canada chose to make their living as stewards of the land and certainly appreciate and depend on a healthy environment.  Earth Day is an excellent time for all of us in the industry to celebrate environmental achievements, and cultivate discussion about further advancement.

Let’s ask questions, seek answers and talk about how we can make continual improvements related to greenhouse gas and manure management, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, nutrient cycling and more.

Water conservation is a hot topic. As concerns rise about depletion of water resources both locally and globally, livestock production and other agriculture sectors are often criticized for water use.

What can the Canadian beef industry do to conserve water?

First we need to Continue reading

Threats and opportunities for the beef industry related to climate change: Webinar January 31

Update: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on our Webinars page: http://www.beefresearch.ca/resources/webinars.cfm



What do scientists predict in terms of weather patterns across Canada in the future? How might climate change impact forage and cattle production? Join this webinar to learn what is known and unknown about climate change, and how our industry can prepare for harmful and beneficial impacts on water, feed supply, disease carrying pests, transportation, beef processing, and Continue reading

Our Environmental Hoofprint is Shrinking, but our Reach is Growing

Early this year, the BCRC Blog highlighted a study titled “Greenhouse gas emissions of Canadian beef production in 1981 as compared with 2011” that documented results of an ongoing Beef Science Cluster project. This paper documented how Canada’s beef industry was able to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas generated in producing one kilogram of Canadian beef dropped by 15 per cent between 1981 and 2011.
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This reduction was largely the result of ongoing improvements in production and feed efficiencies, crop yields and management strategies. These, in turn, can be very directly traced back to research and innovation.

This story quickly became the subject of over 50 agricultural and popular press interviews and articles in Canada in the first few weeks following its release. The research team also presented these results at over a dozen producer meetings in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

We’ve recently learned that this research is also  Continue reading

Extended grazing systems covered in latest episode of Beef Research School

A new video is now available on www.BeefResearchSchool.com

The practice of extending grazing into the winter months is quickly gaining popularity.  Extended grazing methods, including swath, stockpiled and bale grazing, have considerable economic benefits over traditional winter feeding systems. Well managed systems reduce or eliminate labour, feed and manure handling costs during the winter.  New research continually informs management practices that deliver optimum results. For example, Continue reading

Managing winter nutrition: new Beef Research School episode

A new video is now available on www.BeefResearchSchool.com

Feeding beef cattle over the winter can be a challenging balance between ensuring the health and productivity of your animals, and keeping feed and yardage costs at a reasonable level.  We recently sat down with Dr. Kim Ominski, a researcher at the University of Manitoba focused on productivity and environmental sustainability of forage-based beef cattle production systems. Continue reading