Putting Oil Land Back Into Production

July 31, 2012, Dawson Creek, B.C. – To date oil and gas activity in the Peace region has taken an estimated 35,500 acres of land out of production in the Agricultural Land Reserve. A new initiative led by the Peace River Forage Association of BC (PRFA) is working with energy companies, contractors and seed growers to find more effective ways to get land disturbed in the development of pipelines, well-sites and roadways back into production.

The PRFA is working with oil and gas companies, reclamation companies, and producers to establish research and demonstration plots to explore timing and rates of seeding, effective and desirable seed mixes for vegetation cover, and possible cover crops. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is providing $177,550 in funding from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) – delivered in BC by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC (IAF).

“In BC’s Peace region, energy and agriculture are operating on the same land base,” says Peter Levelton, chair of IAF. “This research project will bring farmers, seed growers and energy companies together to address an issue of concern for both industries.”

When energy companies prepare for construction of well sites, pipelines and roadways, they remove the topsoil and subsoil from the area, often piling it in berms or piles around the site. Unmanaged, the disturbed soils become breeding grounds for weeds, causing problems for neighbouring pastures and crops. Establishing desirable and effective vegetation cover in these disturbed soils will reduce erosion, control weeds, and establish suitable forage for grazing and wildlife habitat.

“The goal is to come up with some forage species that do well under challenging growing conditions,” says Bill Wilson, project coordinator and director with PRFA. “We are working together with an advisory group of producers, oil and gas companies and Ducks Unlimited Canada to get suggestions on forage mixes, different applications and management strategies.”

“It’s good for everybody – the people producing the seed, the oil companies, producers and the environment,” he adds.

The Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program provides funding to assist the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector’s ability to seize opportunities, respond to new and emerging issues, as well as pathfind and pilot solutions to new and ongoing issues in order to help it adapt and remain competitive.

The 2012 deadlines to apply for project-based funding are September 26 and December 5. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2013. Additional program information, the Request for Proposals, examples of projects funded and application forms are available online at: www.iafbc.ca.

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