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Forages and Manure - a match made in heaven? (2014)

It’s a most natural cycle. Forages are fed to livestock that produce manure, and manure is returned to the soil to provide the nutrients to produce the next crop. After all, it’s what has happened on pastures and rangelands for millennia. And there is more for today’s sustainable farmers. Compared to other crops, forages often need a lot of nutrients (N, P, K, S), the actual amounts of each nutrient needed depending on the grass-legume ratio. And there is a longer growing season, which means opportunities for earlier application, later application and mid-season applications. Grasses in particular have a ravenous appetite for nitrogen and are well adapted to capture whatever nitrogen is available in the soil – even to excess (hence high feed nitrate levels that sometimes occur). In our research over many years, we have found that grass systems which include the associated beneficial microbes (such as bacteria, fungi and nematodes) that store and recycle nutrients supported by decaying roots and root exudates are surprisingly protective of nitrogen. For that reason, and because of their long growing season and continuous ground cover, forages are less subject to nitrate leaching losses and less subject to manure runoff than cultivated crops. Also, there is less worry with forages about contamination by pathogenic microbes like E. coli, since microbes are very far from the food end-products. But there are complications – many and indeed serious ones. Let’s begin with grazing animals.

New rules for agricultural waste management

New rules for agricultural waste management will better protect B.C.’s water and provide more clarity for the agricultural sector. 

Effective February 28 2019, a new regulation for Agricultural Environmental Management will replace the outdated Agricultural Waste Control Regulation. It will enhance environmental protection measures, allow better compliance and enforcement activities, and make it easier for farmers to establish environmentally sound practices.

Best Management Practices for Phosphorus in the Environment

Phosphorus is a naturally occurring element, essential to life. It is a vital component of the genetic material found in all cells and is involved in energy transfer reactions. In many soils and aquatic systems, phosphorus is the element that limits growth. When phosphorus is supplied, plant growth is stimulated. In most agricultural situations, additional phosphorus will improve productivity. But in rivers, streams and lakes, phosphorus can cause problems by stimulating excess plant growth and reducing the quality of the water.