Counting the Value of Grazing Grass in Canada

CANADA - A multidisciplinary team of scientists from the Universities of Manitoba and Saskatchewan has launched a project that will investigate the value of grasslands in helping Canada reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, says Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 11 November 2008
clock icon 2 minute read
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The role of grasslands in mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions and their ability to provide other benefits is the focus of a project launched by the University of Manitoba.

The study is one of a series of projects aimed at helping reduce the volume of greenhouse gas emitted by Manitoba’s agricultural sector.

Department of Animal Science Associate professor Dr. Kim Ominski explains the study will examine the value of grasslands, beyond their ability to provide feed for beef and dairy cattle and other ruminant species.

Clip-Dr. Kim Ominski-University of Manitoba

The project originally started with a keen interest on behalf of Manitoba cattle producers to look at the value of grasslands in sequestering carbon.

When we look at greenhouse gas production in a beef cattle production system we need to focus on all the potential sources of greenhouse gasses and the potential sinks for greenhouse gases.

Sources would include things like emissions from cattle through the digestion or break down of feed but also we know that the majority of grasslands are owned by beef and dairy cattle producers and that that land has the potential sequester or trap carbon.

The questions that they were asking is, we need to sort of take a look at a more whole system approach rather than just looking at sources of individual greenhouse gases but rather all sources of greenhouse gases.

That includes methane from the cows, possibly nitrous oxide from the manure and also the potential to trap some of this carbon or act as a carbon sink in terms of all of the grasslands they own.

Dr. Ominksi notes we can easily garner data on the productivity of forages and their value in providing feed but

the non commodity values not always associated with forage production, like the potential for providing wild life habitat, for reducing flooding, for recreation, will require additional attention.

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