Saskatchewan farmers are becoming increasingly aware of those field areas that are not growing a crop, or a profit. Through its Marginal Areas Program, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is providing a financial incentive for producers in its target areas to seed hard to access and poorly producing areas to perennial forages.
“This program was developed for producers who aren’t looking to convert an entire quarter to forage, but need help with small fragmented areas in crop margins. DUC is paying a premium to seed those areas to perennial cover,” says Trevor Plews, DUC’s head of conservation programs in Saskatchewan.
While the Marginal Areas Program (MAP) has been offered since 2017, the incentive has recently been increased to $125/acre. Plews notes that DUC has heard farmer input in modifying the program. “There are economies of scale when dealing with fragments of say, 5 acres. The cost of seeding is proportionately higher. Given these concerns, we felt the increased price point was warranted.” Feedback from producers has been favourable; MAP continues to bring in repeat customers who are referring new lands to the program.
Since 2017, roughly 1000 acres have been seeded to forage under the Marginal Areas Program and DUC is looking to add more acres to the program this year. Along with helping manage salinity issues and other producer challenges, perennial cover allows for a suite of environmental benefits, such as improvements to water quality, carbon sequestration, and habitat for wildlife and beneficial insects. This year’s program also includes a free Pollinator Power Pak, a mixture of short- and long-lived perennial species that improve the value of the stand specifically for pollinators.
Producers interested in the MAP (or one of DUC’s other forage programs) should contact their local DUC conservation program specialist to find out if they are in the DUC target areas. Producers may go to myflexfarm.ca for details, contact DUC Regina at 1-866-252-DUCK (3825) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. www.ducks.ca