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Hello everyone,

It has been several months since you have received a newsletter. Don Campbell wrote his last one in June and I agreed to take over. Fall is upon us, kids back to school, it is time to get projects like this underway. We will try to produce a newsletter every month with video links, articles of interest, and upcoming events.  Please feel free to send us your thought or ideas for information to include.

In June, Don Campbell, Neil Dennis and myself will meet with the Government of Saskatchewan's Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart to discuss being paid for carbon sequestration. We will be asking some of you for help this fall as we will be presenting a resolution, at the upcoming round of producer meetings of the cattle associations. This resolution will be asking that farmers be paid for carbon sequestration. We are hoping that if we can get this resolution passed at each provincial association in Western Canada, it will become policy of The Canadian Cattleman’s Association.

Some form of a carbon tax will be coming federally soon. I believe it is in our best interest to encourage governments to have the money collected flow through to producers that demonstrate that they can sequester carbon. The farms monitored so far have averaged 27 tonnes of CO2 sequestered per hectare per year. At $20 per tonne carbon tax,  that is $540/hectare/year. Cattle prices become less important if we all got cheques on an annual basis like that. These are ecological goods and services that we are providing to society for free. We hope we can change policy so we are rewarded for our good stewardship. So please help us all out by attending the district meetings and voting for the resolution.

Blain Hjertaas 
306 452 3882

In June, Kristine Tapley gave her notice and has moved on to other opportunities. She is now working as a beef agrologist for Ducks Unlimited covering Western Canada. Her job is to encourage beef production and good grassland stewardship. We wish her well in her new job.

As of September Dana Penrice has been hired to be the Holistic Management Coordinator. Dana also works part time as the Young Agrarians Alberta Coordinator with Organic Alberta. Young Agrarians is working to grow the next generation of ecological farmers in Canada. We think it is a perfect fit to have Dana working for both organizations. you can contact Dana at 780-914-6282.

Dana will be working to help coordinate courses, support the conference, fielding inquiries, managing the website and exploring ways to grow Holistic Management in Canada

Open Gate Learning Days
Holistic Management Courses

We are currently working to host courses over the winter in the following locations. If you are interested in participating please contact for details on dates, costs and how to register. 

Ferintosh, AB | Halkirk, AB | Brownfield, AB | Grande Prairie, AB

Western Canadian Holistic Management Conference - SAVE THE DATE!

February 18 & 19 LACOMBE, AB

Join us to learn and network with the Holistic Management community. This year's conference will overlap with Organic Alberta's conference which starts on the 17th, so plan to come for both! 

Our goals for the conference are to: 
  • to demonstrate the benefits of HM’s whole systems approach to farming and build on the growing interested in it
  • to draw on the high quality pool of local knowledge, expertise and experience that is in our community
  • to tell positive stories of regeneration of land, farm families and the farming community
  • to provide intergenerational and farmer-to-farmer learning opportunities for new farmers
We are looking for a group or individual to run the children’s program at our upcoming conference in Lacombe, AB in February 2017. This person(s) should have a background in working with educational programs with children of elementary age and will work with the conference planning committee to plan programming (agricultural and environmental in nature) to be run during the conference. For more details contact Geoff Montgomery, Conference Planning Co-Chair at (780) 656-1344.

FEATURE ARTICLE - Regenerative Agriculture helps improve soil health

By Trevor Lennox, Regional Forage Specialist, Saskatchewan Agriculture
(Originally published in the Southwest Booster here)

‘Regenerative Agriculture’ is a new term that is starting to develop on some farms where producers are looking to improve the soil health on their operation. One component of soil health that has perhaps been neglected in the past is our understanding of how plants and soil microbes contribute to healthy soil.

Australian soil scientist Dr. Christine Jones challenges the conventional model of agriculture which has told us that ‘plants take from the soil’. According to her, nothing could be further from the truth. She states: “Observe what happens in bare soil. It dies, then it blows or washes away. If you could see what happens around the roots of actively growing plants you would want to have as many green plants in your soil for as much of the year as possible. It is not ‘natural’ for the soil to be bare over summer.”

Science has shown us that on a given piece of property, over 95 per cent of terrestrial diversity is within the soil itself (less than five per cent is above the ground). Jones says that in order for this soil life to flourish, the soil ecosystem requires fuel in the form of carbon (from green plants) and ‘habitat’ in the form of high root biomass. She further suggests that the soil surface requires year-round protection from erosion and temperature extremes (both highs and lows). According to Jones, it is ‘life’ that gives soil its structure, enabling the infiltration and retention of moisture, restoring water balance across the landscape and reversing the processes of desertification, and it is ‘life’ that provides natural fertility, sequestering carbon, nitrogen and sulfur from the atmosphere and increasing the availability of phosphorus and trace elements in the root zone. According to Christine Jones, the fundamental question in regenerative agriculture is: “how do we get life back into the soil?”

There is increasing recognition of the fundamental importance of soil microbial communities to plant productivity. According to Jones, many biological functions are compromised by commonly used agricultural practices. She outlines four basic principles of regenerative agriculture, proven to restore soil health and increase soil carbon and nitrogen.
  1. The first principle is the maintenance of year-round living cover, via perennial pastures on grazed land and/or multi-species cover crop on farmed land. Almost every living thing in and on the soil depends on green plants (or what was once a green plant) for its existence. The more green plants, the more life.

    It’s well accepted that groundcover buffers soil temperatures and reduces erosion, but it is perhaps less recognized that actively growing green groundcover also fuels the liquid carbon pathway which in turn supports, among other things, mycorrhizal fungi, associative nitrogen-fixing bacteria and phosphorus solubilising bacteria – all of which are essential to both crop nutrition and the formation of stable humified carbon.

  2. The second principle is to provide support for the microbial bridge, to enhance the flow of carbon from plants to soil. This requires reducing inputs of high analysis nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers that inhibit the complex biochemical signalling between plant roots and microbes.
  3. The third principle is to promote plant and microbial diversity, the greater the diversity of plants the more checks and balances for pests and diseases and the broader the range of microhabitats for the soil organisms involved in nutrient acquisition, nutrient cycling and soil building.
  4. The fourth principle is that land responds positively to the presence of animals provided management is appropriate. Rotational grazing of livestock on perennial pastures is the fastest and most economical way to improve soils. As well as the benefits arising from  the addition of manure and urine to soils, high  intensity short duration grazing increases root exudation and stimulates the number and activity of associative nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the root zone, which fire up in response to defoliation and provide the extra nitrogen required by the plant for the production of new growth.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Trevor Lennox, Regional Forage Specialist in Swift Current at 306-778-8294, or , or you can view a collection of papers by Christine Jones at the following website:

Find more about Holistic Management activities in Canada at
To learn about international activities visit

 Holistic Management Canada

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