Climate action through grazing (CAT-G)
The agricultural sector, including livestock production, will play a crucial role in achieving Canada’s net-zero target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Microbes in the soils of grassland and rangeland ecosystems drive carbon cycling and GHG emissions. By using intuitive grazing management practices, cattle can provide a natural approach to improve carbon sequestration in Canadian grasslands while also providing economic benefits to Canada’s rural economies. This project will use genomic technologies to understand how grazing management practices can influence soil and fecal (cattle) microbiomes. It will also identify indicators and drivers of increased carbon sequestration and reduced GHG emissions from soils, vegetation and cattle. This data will drive development of rapid bio-indicators of carbon cycling in grasslands: a critical tool in establishing value in carbon markets by identifying climate-smart management actions. Such tools will provide early indications of positive gains in soil carbon storage and reduced GHG emissions on privately managed grazing lands, rather than waiting decades for the soil carbon to accumulate and stabilize. Three key expected impacts are: 1) facilitating an additional 32.5 Mt CO2 eq. storage by using improved grazing practices, worth an estimated $5.5 billion, 2) training highly qualified personnel in applying multidisciplinary solutions to complex problems, and 3) increasing producer adoption of beneficial management practices and informing decisions related to the costs and benefits of alternative practices. Together, these impacts will help elevate Canada to a global leadership position in sustainable grazing.