Saskatchewan farmers who convert at least 40 acres to perennial forage could qualify for a cash payout through the Marginal Areas Rehabilitation in Saskatchewan (MARS) program.
Administered by Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SaskSoil), with some support by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), the MARS program will connect producers with an agrologist to help identify problem areas of field or farms that may benefit from perennial cover.
Farmers who participate will receive a one-time payment of $2,000 plus $75/acre to plant the select areas to perennial forages and keep those acres in perennial forage for 10 years. Shorter durations are acceptable, however, the upfront payment and per acre payment will be prorated and adjusted accordingly.
This is the first year of the program and Karlah Rudolph, a director of SaskSoil, shares their motivation behind the program:
“It’s a segment of the landscape that that doesn’t typically receive any type of funding for ecological goods and services. When we know that there are benefits to keeping soil covered in forage when it’s vulnerable for a variety of reasons, such as salinity or erosion.”
There are some eligibility requirements that must be met in order for producers to be accepted into the program. Producers must commit to a minimum of 40 acres of seeded forage per producer or farm, however that can span across multiple sections. Alternatively, there is a maximum of 40 acres per quarter section that is allowed to be seeded for forage, this is to give priority to landscapes that are primarily dedicated to annual cropping.
Those interested in the program are encouraged to go to sasksoil.ca or email [email protected], to be qualified and then set up with an agrologist.
Producers who sign up for the program before May 15, 2022, will also receive a pollinator-friendly seed blend as a bonus.