Government of Canada invests $2.6 million to improve alfalfa growth and develop a grassland carbon offset system

News release

July 19, 2021 – Sawyerville, Quebec – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced an investment of over $2.6 million to Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) to support three projects that will assess and improve alfalfa growth using artificial intelligence and will develop a Canadian grassland carbon offset system. Alfalfa is a key forage crop producers rely on to capture and fix carbon, return nutrients to the soil and improve soil health.

Minister Bibeau made the announcement at the farm Bergerie Malvibois in Sawyerville, Quebec, one of the key data collection sites for the project.

Funding will be allocated as follows:

  • Up to $998,185 to develop a tool to improve yield and forage nutritive value from alfalfa fields using artificial intelligence. The tool will identify potential agronomic, climatic and soil-related factors affecting alfalfa yield. It will also predict potential yield and nutritive value loss through soil nutrient analysis and health diagnostics.
  • Up to $996,190 to develop a tool to assess and improve alfalfa’s winter survival rates with artificial intelligence and persistency by combining data and remote imagery with artificial intelligence.
  • Up to $621,572 to develop an assurance system for farmers to produce and sell carbon offsets, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and retention of Canada’s grasslands. Canadian Forage and Grassland Association expects that more than 5,000 hectares of Canadian grasslands will be protected by land conservation agreements, and 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) will be saved through third-party verified carbon offset credits.

These projects will help farmers better understand alfalfa growth, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Government of Canada is committed to providing new and innovative means for farmers to improve the yields of their cover crops and building a sustainable agriculture sector.


“Today’s announcement is about projects that will help to develop tools farmers can use to produce and export more, higher-quality alfalfa through artificial intelligence, and to sell carbon offsets.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food 

“The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association is very excited about this funding from AAFC’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program. Alfalfa is an important ingredient that feeds many other agriculture sectors in Canada, and this funding will help provide forage producers with valuable decision-support tools to help alfalfa crops thrive.”
- Cedric MacLeod, Executive Director, Canadian Forage & Grassland Association

Quick facts

  • Funding for the first two projects comes from the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP). The CASPP supports the Canadian agricultural sector’s participation in the Government of Canada’s growth and policy objectives, by investing in the sector’s design, development and implementation of tools and strategies to respond to and seize opportunities created by these objectives. These projects include a network of 40 agronomists and 225 farms for collecting the data.

  • Funding for the third project comes from the AgriAssurance Program, which funds projects, at the national level, to help industry develop and adopt systems, standards and tools to support health and safety claims about Canadian agricultural and agri-food products.

  • Formed in 2010, the CFGA is the national voice for all sectors of the forage and grassland industry. Their main role is to uphold the robust forage industry and realize the potential of the domestic and export forage market.

Associated links


Oliver Anderson
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
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