The Saskatchewan Forage Council was formed as a cooperative in 1988 to enhance the province's forage industry; including production, harvesting, utilization, and marketing. We distribute current information on forage-related topics and encourage the use of forages in production systems. We communicate and work with government on industry production issues and marketing policies. We assist in the prioritization of research in the forage sector and our research committee identifies research gaps. In partnership with research, government and industry partners, the SFC facilitates or leads applied research projects and demonstrations to fill these gaps.
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The Saskatchewan Forage Council continues to provide value for its stakeholders
Tara Mulhern Davidson, SFC Communications
January 15, 2018
Since its inception in 1988, the Saskatchewan Forage Council (SFC) has remained true to its original Statement of Purpose and Objectives which is a “commitment to the growth and development of all aspects of Saskatchewan’s forage and grassland industry.” The province’s forage industry has diversified over the past thirty years and the SFC continues to advocate for stakeholders through research, extension, and market information.
Today, the SFC is involved in a number of provincial and federal organizations and initiatives, including the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, the Saskatchewan Forage Seed Development Commission (SFSDC), the Prairie Conservation Action Plan, the Saskatchewan Advisory Council on Forage Crops, and the Saskatchewan Beef and Forage Symposium, to name a few. The SFC also provides support and input to initiatives such as agricultural policy framework consultations, the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation’s forage insurance programming, the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, and the Livestock Greenhouse Gas Emissions Forum among others.
Forage research is a priority for the SFC. There are currently three projects underway through the Agricultural Demonstration of Practices and Technologies (ADOPT) program. These projects include evaluating forage variety demonstration trials (for example, assessing seed yield and biomass yield of grasses and legumes); creating an integrated approach to leafy spurge management; and assessing the effects of land-rolling barley, oats and alfalfa after plant emergence.
Over the years, the SFC has completed several applied research projects, providing tangible results for producers and forage stakeholders. A final report for each project can be downloaded by clicking this link. Some key projects include:
- Evaluating AC Yellowhead alfalfa performance; and the effect of a one-cut versus two-cut system;
- Assessing various scarification methods for cicer milkvetch seed and different establishment practices;
- Identifying how the Grazing Response Index (GRI) may be used as a forage management tool on tame pastures;
- Controlling absinthe and common tansy in perennial pastures using various herbicide wipe applicators; and
- Demonstrating the inclusion of forage peas in cereal greenfeed mixes.
The SFC also coordinated a province-wide landmark study that assessed trace minerals in pastures and stock water to help determine whether the nutritional needs of livestock were being met.
The SFC has developed a forage species selection tool, an interactive digital tool that allows producers to determine which forage species will suit their needs based on end use, soil zone, and many other parameters.
The SFC also undertook a multi-level analysis of the forage sector in Saskatchewan in 2010. This report was the first comprehensive assessment of its kind and remains a useful benchmark for the future.
Sharing forage-related information is important, and the SFC recently updated their image with a fresh website design as well as updated social media content on Twitter, Facebook, and the SFC YouTube channel. SFC’s monthly Forage and Livestock e-News, as well as the seasonal monthly Hay and Pasture Report have become useful resources for producers, extension staff, and other stakeholders both in and out of the province. The SFC also provides two comprehensive Forage Market Reports in September and January each year.
The Saskatchewan Forage Network (SFN) was created in 2012 to facilitate a collaborative approach to research, technology transfer, and industry development for forage and livestock industry stakeholders. Through the combined contributions of industry organizations participating in the SFN, financial support has been provided to post-secondary graduate students conducting forage-focused research projects. The SFN has provided direct input to re-alignment of research-focused resources including creation of the Ministry of Agriculture-funded Strategic Research Program Forage Breeding Chair, a post held by Dr. Bill Biligetu at the University of Saskatchewan, as well as the development of the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence.
Each year, the SFC organizes an annual “Forages in the Field” workshop, a plant identification school aimed at environmental professionals in the reclamation sector. The SFC also hosts several collaborative events throughout the year, like the recent Gabe Brown workshop co-hosted with the Saskatchewan Bison Association during the 34th Annual Canadian Bison Association Conference. The SFC also partners with other organizations to present an annual Sask Pasture Tour (SPT) which provides a venue for research and innovative forage management practices.
The needs of forage stakeholders in Saskatchewan continue to shift and emerge, and the Saskatchewan Forage Council is adapting as well, remaining steadfast in their commitment to this valuable sector.