Agriculture as a Green Industry: Looking after Biodiversity
|Sean LeMoine (Presenter), M.Sc. Candidate, Acadia University|
Joe Nocera, University of New Brunswick, Canada
Kenna MacKenzie, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Government of Canada
Glen Parsons, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
Randy Milton, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
Soren Bondrup-Nielsen, Acadia University
Biology Department, Acadia University, 24 University Avenue
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada B4P 2R6
|Green Industry seeks to meet economic goals while accounting for social and environmental impacts, including maintaining global and local biodiversity. Biodiversity is not something to be relegated to protected areas but must be incorporated into all human activities. |
Present day agriculture is considered to have the largest negative impact on global biodiversity. In North America severe declines of many grassland birds (sparrows, Bobolink, and pheasant) are largely believed to be a result of a net loss of hayfields and hay harvest timing and frequency. In some regions, birds such as the Bobolink have declined as much as 95 percent over a 40-year period.
Delayed harvesting of hay crops can provide time for nesting grassland birds to fledge their young. However, this practice results in an inferior hay crop that does not generally meet the nutrition requirements of various livestock, especially dairy cattle. An alternative is to plant late maturing forages to allow young grassland birds enough time to fledge and still meet nutritional requirements of livestock. As farmers are logistically unable to cut all their fields at once when nutritional quality is highest, having some fields planted with a late cultivar would allow farmers to maximize the quality of the hay and provide some much needed habitat for nesting grassland birds.
As part of a study in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, late maturing forages were planted at the Belleisle Wildlife Management Area in the fall of 2003. These late maturing hay fields are being compared to adjacent conventional hay fields for forage quality and wildlife use. If successful, this management strategy will assist in the recovery of declining grassland bird populations such as the Bobolink and provide farmers interested in maintaining biodiversity with a viable option. This is one small step towards greening the agricultural industry.