Study shows grassland environmental contributions

Manitoba Cooperator: Researchers Dr. Daniel Hewins, former post-doctoral fellow with University of Alberta, and Dr. Edward Bork, Rangeland Research Institute Chair, conducted a large-scale study to look at how livestock grazing affects grassland biodiversity and carbon storage. They looked at 144 sites from across six agro-climatic zones in Alberta and showed that Alberta grasslands store about 300 gigatons of carbon; 97% of that is below ground. The study also identified an increase in productivity and increased biodiversity under grazing.

 "Grazing not only seems to promote biodiversity of our perennial native grasses, it also seems to limit shrub encroachment into our grassland environment," Hewins said. He adds that grazing also stimulated root production, which increases plant biomass and ultimately leads to the formation of soil carbon. So in fact, grazing can provide the opportunity to enhance and maintain soil carbon pools. Hewins, along with many others within the forage sector, believe that incentives should be put in place to encourage producers to avoid converting grasslands and to manage the land in a way that is sustainable. Read the entire article, Study Shows Grassland Environmental Contributions,  published in Manitoba Co-operator.