A Longview rancher had the opportunity to learn more about grazing practices down in New York. Alex Robertson is a Director with the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association, and recently attended the Grassfed Exchange Conference on September 27-29.

Robertson was joined by fellow Director Morrie Goetjen, and another producer from Alberta.

Before the two day conference, there was a pre-conference tour of a grassfed dairy operation and a beef operation.

"The tour was very interesting, and it was through some very old farm land. The land was originally farmed in the 17th century, so it's land that's been farmed for a long time, and it's a lot of degraded soils from erosion and over farming, and it's mostly returned to trees. But, the primary focus of the conference was improving your soils, therefore improving your gain on your cattle grazing. So, they're improving soils with legumes and grasses, and increasing the microbial action in the soils."

Robertson says, the grass production you need to have a grassfed dairy is very high, and if we can achieve that level of grass production, we should be able to fatten cattle on grass the way they do in feedlots.

Producers taking part in conferences and workshops, such as the Grassfed Exchange Conference, is also good news for consumers and the environment.

"I'm hoping these conferences will reduce our dependence on outside inputs. It should also be reducing our carbon footprint if we're reducing the amount of feed we have to put up and feed out in the winter time, and the amount of chemicals and fertilizers we have to use. Hopefully, that will reduce our overall footprint as an industry."

Robertson says, a lot of the agriculture production in New York is directly marketed since they are so close to a large population. Some of these products include milk, beef, chicken, pork, and poultry.

One of Robertson's favourite speakers, Ray Archuletta, will also be attending the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing, December 5-7.

The Foothills Forage and Grazing Association is involved in organizing the three day conference, which will be held in Edmonton.

For more registration details, you can visit their website.


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