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Government invests $2.6 million to improve alfalfa growth and carbon offset system


July 19, 2021
By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced an investment of more than $2.6 million for Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) to support three projects that will assess and improve alfalfa growth using artificial intelligence and will develop a Canadian grassland carbon offset system. Alfalfa is a key forage crop producers rely on to capture and fix carbon, return nutrients to the soil and improve soil health.

“Today’s announcement is about projects that will help to develop tools farmers can use to produce and export more, higher-quality alfalfa through artificial intelligence, and to sell carbon offsets,” Bibeau said as part of the announcement, which took place at Bergerie Malvibois in Sawyerville, Que., one of the key data collection sites for the project.

Funding will be allocated as follows:

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  • Up to $998,185 to develop a tool to improve yield and forage nutritive value from alfalfa fields using artificial intelligence. The tool will identify potential agronomic, climatic and soil-related factors affecting alfalfa yield. It will also predict potential yield and nutritive value loss through soil nutrient analysis and health diagnostics.
  • Up to $996,190 to develop a tool to assess and improve alfalfa’s winter survival rates and persistency by combining data and remote imagery with artificial intelligence.
  • Up to $621,572 to develop an assurance system for farmers to produce and sell carbon offsets, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and retention of Canada’s grasslands. CFGA expects that more than 5,000 hectares of Canadian grasslands will be protected by land conservation agreements, and 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) will be saved through third-party verified carbon offset credits.

“The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association is very excited about this funding from AAFC’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program,” said Cedric MacLeod, CFGA executive director, in a statement. “Alfalfa is an important ingredient that feeds many other agriculture sectors in Canada, and this funding will help provide forage producers with valuable decision-support tools to help alfalfa crops thrive.”

These projects will help farmers better understand alfalfa growth, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Government of Canada is committed to providing new and innovative means for farmers to improve the yields of their cover crops and building a sustainable agriculture sector.