Measurement and verification of carbon sequestration in cattle industry continues to be a challenge

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In 2020, the Canadian Beef Advisors (CBA) set industry-wide carbon goals for the next decade, spanning to 2030. Now, two years into the set goals, the CBA made working groups for all of those goals.

Brenna Grant, executive director of CanFax Research Services — the secretariat for the CBA — was on hand at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) to discuss the group she is the lead of: greenhouse gas and carbon sequestration. The group is working to reduce primary production emissions intensity by 33 per cent, and having an additional 3.4 million tonnes of carbon sequestered each year.

“We know that, based on the scenarios we did when we developed the goals, that if we continue to invest in research, and the incremental progress that producers have been doing historically, we can have about a 17 per cent reduction. Right now, we’re focused on communicating what the research already shows us are best practices that reduce emissions, and increase sequestration,” Grant explains, adding that some of the practices include putting legumes in pastures, extending your grazing days, shortening your winter feed days, and having precision feeding practices.

When looking at carbon sequestration, the recording process is tricky, so ultimately, it makes the recording or reaching or goals a bit of a struggle. As Grant explains, some of the greatest challenges are measurement and verification, which is currently being worked on.

“Environment and Climate Change Canada does have a protocol being developed to enhance soil organic carbon, but it’s really going to focus on what are the measurements needed to be taken? And what are the records for verification from the producer? It’s in process, we don’t know what it’s going to look like, so we’re just waiting to find out more.”

As well, Grant says they are really working to fill the data gaps with research in every province across the country, to ensure they have information on different soil types, vegetation types, and grazing management.

“[We want to ensure] we are actually filling that base, so we can figure out what that baseline is.”

Check out the full conversation filmed at CBIC at Penticton, B.C., below:

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