New living lab being developed to identify agricultural climate solutions in Saskatchewan

A new producer-centred project based in Saskatchewan will join a national network of living labs aimed at sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farmland.

The South of the Divide Conservation Action Program, Inc. (SODCAP) is launching the project to identify agricultural practices to mitigate climate change. The new living lab will investigate how prairie soils, plants, and animals interact to influence carbon cycling and storage, nutrient use efficiency, farm profitability, conservation outcomes, and more.

Board Co-Chair Keith Day said that the living lab is an excellent opportunity to understand the benefits of farm and ranch management that stretch far beyond the farm gate.

“As an organization, we are especially interested in understanding the value of carbon held in native grasslands and how soil carbon storage is related to other landscape values, including wildlife conservation,” he said. “Ultimately, we want to support producers in navigating opportunities related to the ecosystem services they provide on their farms and ranches while ensuring that policymakers are working with data that reflects the reality on the ground.”

The project is focused on producers’ interests and needs, with approximately 25 farm and ranch operations currently slated to participate. Producers will avoid converting native and naturalized lands to other uses, implement innovative grazing management practices, plant perennial species in new and existing stands, and seed diverse annual cover crops grazed by livestock.

Board Co-Chair Lorne Scott said conserving grassland ecosystems is one of Canada’s best opportunities to fight climate change.

“Native prairie landscapes store massive pools of carbon but are at risk of being converted to other uses. Landowners should be recognized for management practices that keep ecosystems intact and healthy over the long term.”

The project received $8 million in support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) over the next five years, with researchers from nine organizations and 13 other organizations involved in project development and delivery.

More from 620 CKRM