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Harker K.N.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Hartman M.D.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Canadian Journal of Plant Science | Year: 2016

A canola (Brassica napus L.) experiment to determine the effect of unconventional or novel inputs compared with standard and increased seed and nitrogen rates was conducted at 14 different Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada sites in 2013 and 2014. All treatments were compared to a “best management practice” (BMP) treatment with canola seeded at 100 seeds m−2 and fertilized according to soil test recommendations. Canola density across all sites averaged 56 plants m−2 and increased to 76 plants m−2 at 150 seeds m−2. Flowering and maturity time were both decreased when 25% less nitrogen was applied in the side-band at seeding. Compared to the BMP treatment, there were trends for lower yield (P = 0.0528) when side-banded nitrogen was reduced by 25% at seeding time or for higher yield (P = 0.0530) when 25% more nitrogen was added as a foliar treatment at the bud stage. Canola yields were generally economically optimized in the BMP treatment at soil test recommended nitrogen rates. Increasing the seeding rate from 100 to 150 seeds m−2 did not increase canola yield; however, it did decrease % green seed enough to potentially affect canola grade and economic returns. Increasing or decreasing nitrogen fertilizer compared to BMP often decreased or increased seed oil concentration, respectively, and had the opposite effect on seed protein concentration. Despite incurring additional costs compared to the BMP treatment, none of the novel inputs impacted canola emergence, days to flowering, days to maturity, yield or quality. © Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada 2016.

St. Amand J.A.,Animal Health and Assurance Branch | Cassis R.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | King R.K.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | Annett Christianson C.B.,Animal Health and Assurance Branch
Avian Pathology | Year: 2017

Some Salmonella spp. are zoonotic, a frequent cause of foodborne illness in Canada, and known to infect humans through contaminated poultry and poultry products. Certain serotypes of Salmonella spp. have been demonstrated to be vertically transmitted from hen to egg. The incidence of Salmonella spp. isolation in the flock has been correlated to its isolation from the environment. Twenty-one producers were enrolled in this study to examine the occurrence of Salmonella spp. in 48 table egg layer flocks housed in 35 barns in Alberta. The purpose of this study was to: (i) identify Salmonella serotypes isolated from the environment of table egg layer facilities in Alberta and (ii) record the prevalence of Salmonella spp. across eight defined environmental sampling points. Salmonella spp. were isolated from the environment of 20/35 barns representing 29/48 flocks. The most common serotypes isolated were S. Heidelberg, S. Kentucky and S. Mbandaka. The order of most to least contaminated sample location was manure belts (54.1%), feeders (47.9%), feed motors (45.8%), egg belts and walls (41.7%), fans (35.0%), cage bottoms (31.3%) and lobbies (27.1%). Salmonella spp. were isolated from 7/7 barns post cleaning and disinfection, demonstrating the persistence of this organism in the environment and the need for effective eradication protocols. © 2017 Houghton Trust Ltd

Conrad C.C.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Stanford K.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | Narvaez-Bravo C.,University of Manitoba | Callaway T.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | McAllister T.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease | Year: 2017

Many public venues such as farms, fairs, and petting zoos encourage animal contact for both educational and entertainment purposes. However, healthy farm animals, including cattle, small ruminants, and poultry, can be reservoirs for enteric zoonotic pathogens, with human infections resulting in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in some cases, severe complications that can lead to death. As animals shed these organisms in their feces, contamination of themselves and their surroundings is unavoidable. The majority of North Americans reside in urban and suburban settings, and the general public often possess limited knowledge of agricultural practices and minimal contact with farm animals. Furthermore, there is a lack of understanding of zoonotic pathogens, particularly how these pathogens are spread and the human behaviors that may increase the risk of infection. Human risk behaviors include hand-to-mouth contact immediately after physical contact with animals and their environments, a practice that facilitates the ingestion of pathogens. It is often young children who become ill due to their under-developed immune systems and poorer hygienic practices compared with adults, such as more frequent hand-to-mouth behaviors, and infrequent or improper hand washing. These illnesses are often preventable, simply through adequate hygiene and hand washing. Our objective was to use a structured approach to review the main causal organisms responsible for human illnesses acquired in petting zoo and open farm environments, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, nontyphoidal Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Cryptosporidium. Notable outbreaks involving direct contact with farm animals and farm, fair, or petting zoo environments are discussed and recommendations for how public venues can increase safety and hand hygiene compliance among visitors are proposed. The most effective protective measures against enteric illnesses include education of the public, increasing overall awareness of the risks and the importance of hand hygiene, as well as access to hand-washing facilities. © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Smit M.N.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | Beltranena E.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2017

Feeding Camelina sativa cake with remaining oil contributes dietary energy (fat) in addition to protein (AA) and may provide an opportunity to enrich the n-3 fatty acid content of pork. Information regarding safety, growth performance, and efficacy of feeding camelina cake to pigs is limited. We therefore evaluated the effects of camelina cake inclusion in pig nursery diets. In total, 192 pigs (9.4 kg BW) were randomly allocated by sex to 48 pens, 2 heavy and 2 light pigs per pen. Pigs were fed 1 of 4 wheat-based diets including camelina cake (0%, 6%, 12%, or 18%; variety Celine) replacing soybean meal for 4 wk. Individual pigs, pen feed added, and orts were weighed weekly. Feces were collected on d 26 and 27. A blood sample was taken on d 29 from 24 pigs with the lowest BW/pen, which were then euthanized and necropsied. Gross pathological examination was conducted, and organ weights were measured. Samples of liver, back fat, belly fat, and jowl fat were collected for fatty acid analysis. Increasing dietary camelina cake inclusion linearly decreased (P < 0.001) apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) of DM, OM, GE and ash but did not affect ATTD of CP and P. For the entire trial (d 0 to 28), increasing camelina cake inclusion by 6% linearly decreased (P < 0.001) ADFI by 74 g/d, ADG by 51 g/d, and BW by 0.8 kg but did not affect feed efficiency (G:F). Increasing camelina cake inclusion linearly increased (P < 0.001) liver weight relative to BW, linearly decreased (P < 0.050) kidney weight, but did not affect spleen, heart, and thyroid weights. Increasing camelina cake inclusion did not result in serological (large-animal standard panel, T3, and T4) or gross clinical (morphology) findings that might suggest toxicity. In liver, back fat, belly fat, and jowl fat, increasing dietary camelina cake inclusion linearly increased (P < 0.050) total n-3 fatty acids and shorter-chain n-3 and n-6 fatty acids but did not increase docosahexaenoic acid (n-3) or arachidonic acid (n-6). In conclusion, feeding camelina cake to weaned pigs at up to 18% did not elicit clinical signs of toxicity and increased n-3 fatty acids in carcass fat depots. The decrease in ADFI as camelina cake inclusion increased resulted in pigs fed 18% weighing 5 kg less than controls at the end of the nursery period. © 2017 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.

Tymensen L.D.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
MicrobiologyOpen | Year: 2016

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) are part of an acquired bacterial immune system that functions as a barrier to exogenous genetic elements. Since naturalized Escherichia coli are likely to encounter different genetic elements in aquatic environments compared to enteric strains, we hypothesized that such differences would be reflected within the hypervariable CRISPR alleles of these two populations. Comparison of CRISPR1 alleles from naturalized and fecal phylogroup B1 E. coli strains revealed that the alleles could be categorized into four major distinct groups (designated G6–G9), and all four allele groups were found among naturalized strains and fecal strains. The distribution of CRIPSR G6 and G8 alleles was similar among strains of both ecotypes, while naturalized strains tended to have CRISPR G7 alleles rather than G9 alleles. Since CRISPR G7 alleles were not specific to naturalized strains, they, however, would not be useful as a marker for identifying naturalized strains. Notably, CRISPR alleles from naturalized and fecal strains also had similar spacer repertoires. This indicates a shared history of encounter with mobile genetic elements and suggests that the two populations were derived from common ancestors. © 2016 The Author. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

News Article | November 18, 2015

In a pasture outside Edmonton, Canada, you’ll find a few dozen cows doing what cows do: mostly eating. The average animal spends eight-plus hours a day filling its belly, or as is the case with cows, bellies. Along with that enormous appetite, cows are born with the ability to digest almost any plant they can chew, thanks to a multichambered stomach and a helpful army of gut microbes that break down food that most mammals cannot. The system is an evolutionary bonanza for cattle, but it’s not so easy on the environment — which is why the animals at the Lacombe Research Centre are no ordinary grazers. Through a transponder clipped to the ear of each cow, scientists record when a cow sticks her head into a bin of tasty feed pellets. As she eats, a solar-powered fume hood above captures her exhalations. Laser beams surround the pasture, reading gases in the atmosphere. Livestock is a major source of methane emissions from human activity in the United States. The gas is produced as part of the digestive process of cattle and other ruminants and from microorganisms that grow in manure (numbers in chart at top are rounded).  Source: Inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990–2013/EPA 2015 All this fuss is over bovine burps. While cattle and other ruminants like sheep and goats have been gassy for around 50 million years, scientists have only recently begun to pay keen attention to their exhaust as concern grows over climate change. The belches contain methane, an odorless compound that is the main component of natural gas. In the atmosphere, methane warms the Earth. It isn’t the most abundant greenhouse gas created by human activity (that prize goes to carbon dioxide), but methane is one of the most powerful at trapping heat. In a “pound for pound” comparison, over a century, methane has an impact on climate change that is 25 times as great as CO , according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Citing methane’s impact, a recent CNN story referred to beef as “the new SUV.” But the old SUVs, along with the rest of the oil and gas industry, are a larger source of atmospheric methane in the United States, EPA data indicate, contributing 29 percent of U.S. methane emissions. Livestock is responsible for 26 percent, the agency estimates. Yet while that’s the official number, a paper last year in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres raised the possibility that the EPA’s measurements are off, and that the biggest source of methane from human activity may in fact be ruminants — more than 90 percent of them cows raised for beef and dairy production. While methane emissions from the energy sector declined between 1990 and 2013, the contribution from agriculture rose by 11 percent, according to the EPA. (Though in later years cattle populations fell and so did livestock-related methane.) The World Bank estimates that overall global methane emissions rose 17 percent between 1990 and 2010. In 2014, the U.S. government announced a goal to reduce methane output from dairy cattle by 25 percent by 2020. That’s why scientists worldwide are looking for ways to produce a less noxious cow. Experiments target the animal inside and out, testing variations in feed, antimethane additives and experimental vaccines. The Canadian project goes deeper, using genetics to develop and breed animals that are naturally less burpy. All approaches are promising, but no single one has hit the sweet spot: reducing methane dramatically while not harming the cow or dampening production of farms and ranches. Any solution can’t be too impractical or too expensive, either. The good news is that this is one issue where the interests of the $44 billion beef industry and environmentalists may converge — cattle that pollute less might live longer or get by with less feed, improving the profit margins of farms and ranches. “We’ve been selling the greenhouse gas story as a win-win to farmers,” says Conrad Ferris, head of dairy research at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland. Most methane-reducing experiments don’t concern the cow per se; they go after the microscopic ecosystem huddled inside the animal’s gut. When a cow eats, hay, grass and other plant material land inside the rumen, the largest of the four compartments of the bovine stomach, which can hold 150 to 190 liters of food and water. Ruminant digestion is a microbial marvel: A portion of the stomach is sectioned off into a sophisticated vat for fermentation, which occurs when microorganisms slice sugar and other large molecules into smaller ones. (Without fermentation, grapes and agave couldn’t become wine and tequila.) Trapped inside the rumen, bacteria digest the components of the forage, especially cellulose, the large chains of glucose that form the main structural support of the cell walls of plants. Cellulose is the reason green plants tend to be stiff and rigid. People aren’t born with the enzymes to cope with cellulose, which is why we don’t eat grass. When humans eat foods such as fruits and vegetables, the cellulose acts as dietary fiber. Because it resists digestion, cellulose doesn’t provide energy. It does help a person feel full with fewer calories and maintain the health of the intestine, and of the microbiome inside. Thanks to a multichambered stomach and helpful microbes, cattle can digest food that humans cannot. The largest chamber, the rumen, is a fermentation vat that breaks down cellulose. Microbes soak up the resulting hydrogen, producing methane (CH ), which the cow releases, mainly in burps. But a ruminant animal’s microorganisms can extract the energy locked up in cellulose. Its digestive system includes microbes called methanogens, ancient entities distinct from bacteria and other microorganisms. Methanogens can live in other oxygen-starved environments, such as the bottom of lakes. When microbes in the rumen digest cellulose, they leave behind nutrients that the cow needs plus methane gas, created when methanogens soak up the hydrogen left over from fermentation. The relationship is straightforward: The more the cow eats, the more it ferments, the more methane produced. Emissions from a grown dairy cow can amount to about 260 to 650 grams of methane per day. Consider that the nation has 98 million head of cattle and you see the scope of the problem. One mid-sized animal could put out about 150 kilograms of methane every year, which has the same environmental impact as driving from New York to Los Angeles — three times. Scientists are trying to interfere with the chemical steps that lead to methane production in ways that don’t harm the overall health or productivity of the cows. Over the last few years, researchers have tried adding natural and laboratory-made substances to cow feed. One of them is nitrate. The idea is that, given the extra nitrogen, methanogens sopping up excess hydrogen will form ammonia (composed of one nitrogen and three hydrogen atoms) instead of methane (one carbon and four hydrogens). Last year, scientists from the Lethbridge Research Centre in Canada, writing in the Canadian Journal of Animal Science, reviewed nitrate-adding experiments dating back to the 1960s. Some laboratory tests yielded dramatic results, reducing cow methane emissions by as much as 70 percent. In other studies, the nitrate didn’t affect the growth or appetite of the cows, or milk or meat production. Problem is, in the rumen, nitrate is broken down into nitrite, which can interfere with the action of red blood cells. One cow died in an experiment and six others had to be rescued. “One of the challenges is, how do you deliver it in a way that prevents nitrate toxicity in the animal,” says Wendy Powers, director of environmental stewardship for animal agriculture at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Other scientists have experimented with plants that can influence microbes and change the methane-producing chemistry of the rumen, with the hope that “the public will more readily accept something that is natural,” says Alexander Hristov, a professor of dairy nutrition at Penn State University. He and his colleagues added a by-product of cashew nut processing to feed and reduced methane emissions by a modest 8 percent, they reported in June in the Journal of Dairy Science. He has also experimented with adding oregano to feed, which reduced methane. But it got to be too much. “We were feeding 500 grams of oregano per cow per day,” he says. “That is not going to be economical.” Different approaches are under study to reduce bovine methane emissions. Most try to change the chemistry or microbial makeup of the rumen.   Promotes formation of ammonia instead of methane Alters the chemistry of the rumen Substitutes feed that relies less on fermentation Increases milk production in dairy cows; already available Can be expensive; environmental cost if transportation needed Blocks enzyme that drives last step of methane formation In one experiment, methane dropped 30 percent and cows gained weight Cows require less feed for same growth Changes are slow; may affect other traits, such as health or fertility Sources: C. Lee and K.A. Beauchemin/Can. J. Anim. Sci. 2014; G. Wischer et al/Animal 2013; H.P. Jiao et al/J. Dairy Sci. 2014; A.N. Hristov et al/Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2015; M. Aspin; J.A. Basarab et al/Animal 2013 Powers mentored a Michigan State grad student who tried adding an extract from tea to feed, which raised yet another complication: “You had to get so much in there to be effective, palatability became an issue,” she says. Cows will shun a solution that tastes bad. Overall, she says, experiments with various plant extracts have been inconsistent. Hristov’s team devised another approach that appears to pass the taste test. Researchers experimented with a synthetic feed additive designed to interfere with an enzyme that drives the last step of methane formation. In the Aug. 25 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers reported that 48 cows given the additive for 12 weeks produced 30 percent less methane than cows that ate only their normal feed. The additive did not affect the animals’ appetite or milk production. “This is the most promising feed additive we have worked with,” Hristov says. “In my opinion, this is the answer to the gut problem.” The Irish scientists are also trying to reduce methane by decreasing the proportion of roughage (the grass and hay that leads to methane production) and increasing the amount of concentrates, which are plants that are easier to digest without fermentation, such as corn and soybeans. Last year, in the Journal of Dairy Science, the researchers described one such experiment in 40 grazing cows. As concentrates increased, so did milk production. The cows’ overall methane emissions weren’t affected, but with higher production, the amount of methane that accompanied each liter of milk was reduced, which eases the environmental impact. That experiment was on animals in the field. Experiments in barns have also demonstrated that more concentrates mean less methane per liter of milk produced, Ferris says. But concentrates are costly. “There comes a point when even the higher milk production doesn’t cover the cost of concentrates,” he says. Also, if the overall goal is to ease the impact on the environment, the production and shipping of concentrates has its own carbon footprint. A concern with food additives is that the methanogens in the rumen might adapt to their new diet after a time and resume methane production at the same level. For that reason, an additive would probably need to be repeatedly fed and monitored through the animal’s life span, potentially adding to cost and labor, says Mark Aspin, manager of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium in Wellington, New Zealand, which partners with the government research agency AgResearch. Researchers in New Zealand — a country with more cows than people — are developing an antimethane vaccine that could reduce the population of methanogens in the rumen without affecting an animal’s weight, milk production or breeding. The advantage of a vaccine, Aspin says, is that it could theoretically be administered just once, or at least only annually. Also, farmers and ranchers are used to vaccinations; adding one more shot wouldn’t be much of a burden on existing agricultural practices. It could be used across other economically important ruminants, such as sheep (which outnumber his country’s human population 7-to-1), he says. The technology is still far from the farm, however. The New Zealand research team has identified antibodies to the gut microbes and is in the process of amplifying the important pieces of those antibodies and incorporating them into a vaccine. In the journal Animal in 2013, the New Zealand team reported finding genetic sequences in methanogens that are attractive targets for a vaccine. They’ve also developed a vaccine injection that produces methanogen antibodies in saliva, which would then travel into the rumen. This is one key to delivery, since an average cow produces 100 to 150 liters of spit a day to aid in digestion. Further experiments would have to demonstrate that lowering methanogens won’t affect the animal’s overall health. “The concern is that removing methanogens from the rumen may allow hydrogen to accumulate,” Aspin says. However, “in the limited studies that have been done to date, it doesn’t appear that this is the case.” Sidestepping digestion altogether, some researchers are focusing on breeding a cleaner cow. In Ireland, Ferris and his colleagues experiment with livestock management. Part of the idea is to lengthen the life span of any given animal. “It takes over two years from when a calf is born until she produces her first liter of milk,” he says. If a cow lives longer, her lifetime methane production is spread out over more liters of milk. Also, a farmer does not have to replace as many members of the herd with young, all-methane, no-milk youngsters. In a paper published last year in the Journal of Dairy Science, his research team reported that Norwegian breeds had greater longevity than Holsteins, which make up more than 80 percent of U.S. dairy cows. At the Lacombe Research Centre in the Canadian province of Alberta, researchers collect cow burps when the animals eat from a specially designed fume hood made by C-Lock, Inc. The scientists are breeding animals that naturally produce lower amounts of methane (CH ). Researchers in Alberta are developing lines of cattle that produce less methane because they are born that way. “If you use a feed additive, you’ve got to add it all the time,” says John Basarab, a research scientist for beef cattle production and genetics at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. But a naturally more efficient cow can get by on less feed for the same growth. Over the last two decades, Basarab and his research team have measured about 5,000 cattle for feed efficiency, and report that old-fashioned selective breeding can produce animals that release up to 25 percent less methane. “In every breed there are animals that are efficient, or inefficient,” he says. The researchers began the research not with methane in mind, but with the idea that animals that extract the most calories from their feed will ultimately be more economical. “Essentially there are animals that eat less for the same amount of growth,” Basarab says. Approaching the methane issue through genetics is slow (the gestation period for a cow is about 280 days), he concedes, but it also has the advantage of being “cumulative and permanent.” He and others say the day may come for cows — just as it did for cars — when governments require certain limits on emissions. And just as organic foods have risen in popularity, consumers may start demanding low-methane products. More and more consumers want to know where their food comes from and whether it’s being produced in a sustainable way, Basarab says. “If you don’t take care of these things, the public might just say that’s a bad way of producing food and we’re not going to buy it.” Making the most of manure The average dairy cow generates about 45 kilograms of manure daily. Next to the animal’s burps, its droppings are a substantial source of methane : Manure accounts for 10 percent of U.S. methane emissions. (For all their gassiness, farts release just a tiny fraction of a cow’s methane.) Much of the focus of the U.S. government’s methane-tackling “Biogas Opportunities Roadmap” was on cow patties. Unlike burps that waft into the air, the methane from manure can be captured by devices called digesters. The airtight devices use the methane generated by the methanogens in manure, which thrive in oxygen-poor environments, to produce energy. The output — either fuel or electricity — powers farm operations or is sold. Digesters are popular at landfills — including one that collects waste at Disney World in Florida — but they are rare in agriculture. Just 239 manure digesters are in operation on U.S. farms (of which there are just over 2 million), according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet they generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 70,000 homes. — Laura Beil This story appears in the November 28, 2015, Science News with the headline, "Greener cows: Research rounds up less burpy bovines." Editor's note: On November 20, 2015, a clarification was added to the caption for the illustration "As fumes flow" and the credit was corrected.

PubMed | Chinook Contract Research, Alberta Veterinary Laboratories, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Horse Industry Association
Type: Journal Article | Journal: BMC veterinary research | Year: 2016

Castration is one of the most common procedures performed on beef and dairy cattle. The objective of the study was to determine the efficacy of meloxicam oral suspension in reducing pain and inflammation in calves following band or surgical castration.Two identical trials with the exception of the method of castration (Band Castration Study 1 and Surgical Castration Study 2) were conducted. Sixty (60) healthy Holstein calves 4 to 5months of age (138-202 Kg) were used. Animals received either Meloxicam Oral Suspension at a dose of 1mg/kg BW (n=15 Study 1 and 15 Study 2) or Saline (n=15 Study 1 and 15 Study 2) 2h before castration. Physiological (Heart Rate, Plasma Cortisol and Plasma Substance P) and Behavioral (Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Accelerometers and tail Pedometers) evaluations were conducted before (day -1) and after Castration (Day 0, 1, 2, 3). Inflammation was evaluated daily by providing an individual animal score (Study1) or with a measurement of scrotal thickness (Study 2).Heart rates were significantly greater in control animals following band and surgical castration. Plasma cortisol and substance P were significantly reduced in animals receiving Meloxicam Oral Suspension. Control animals had significantly greater VAS scores. Accelerometers showed that meloxicam treated animals had a significantly greater motion index and number of steps as well as less % time lying and number of lying bouts. The scrotal inflammation (based on scrotal swelling) was significantly decreased in the meloxicam treated animals compared to the control animals on day 1, day 2 and 3.Meloxicam Oral Suspension was able to significantly reduce the display of painful behaviors and physiological responses to pain in band castrated and surgical castrated calves for up to 72h following a single oral treatment of 1mg/kg body weight. Meloxicam Oral Suspension was able to significantly reduce scrotal inflammation in band castrated and surgical castrated calves.

Li C.,Natural Resources Canada | Barclay H.,Victoria | Huang S.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | Sidders D.,Natural Resources Canada
Landscape Ecology | Year: 2016

Context: A challenging issue in landscape ecology is the evaluation of changes in a forest landscape following a disturbance. This evaluation usually entails examining changes in the forest inventory, which represents the best information available for a given forest region. Objectives: Our aim was to extend existing methods used to evaluate forest inventory to include additional variables, such as value-based forest product options, wood fibre attributes, and ecosystem services. Inclusion of such variables in forest inventory evaluations would allow research results to be presented from an economic perspective, which is often required for policy development and forest management decision-making. Methods: We developed a value-based framework to evaluate forest inventory and implemented it in the wood fibre value simulation model. We then used a local data set from Manitoba, Canada, to show how the model can be applied to the mapping of new inventory layers to facilitate the evaluation of landscape changes. Results: Five new inventory layers are mapped including bioenergy and heating value that can be directly used for evaluating landscape changes, and wood density, fibre length, and pulp yield, which can be combined with total wood volume to derive new variables or indices to express changes in landscape conditions. Conclusions: Our model can contribute to the assessment of landscape changes by indicating the values a forest can have when it is used for different conservation or utilization purposes. The model can also support improved decision-making with respect to the management of forest resources. © 2016 Her Majesty the Queen in Rights of Canada

Swallow B.M.,University of Alberta | Goddard T.W.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management | Year: 2016

Purpose – This paper aims to track the development of climate policy in the province of Alberta, Canada, particularly the province’s unique greenhouse gas emission offset mechanism. The analysis shows how the policy has influenced, and been influenced by, policy processes at the national and international levels. Design/methodology/approach – The paper begins with an analytical framework that recognizes different types of influence between international, national and provincial climate policy processes. That framework is used to structure a review of four historical periods of climate policy change: prior to 1992, 1992 to 2002, 2002 to 2012 and between 2012 and mid-2015. Findings – The analysis illustrates the interplay between the Alberta approach to climate policy and the international and national policy contexts. A period of intense policy conflict between Canada’s federal and provincial governments led to a situation in which the Alberta Government sought to lead rather than follow national policy. Subsequent periods have seen the Canadian national government oscillate between following the lead of Alberta or the USA. Research limitations/implications – Rather than national and international policies simply setting the context for Alberta’s policy, the paper identifies multiple flows of influence between the three levels of governance. The results illustrate the need to consider forward and backward flows of influence between the different levels of government that set climate change policies. Elements of several models of policy change are supported. Practical implications – The Alberta climate mitigation policy has many elements that can be effective in reducing carbon emissions in a way that is both flexible and predictable. These elements are of interest to other jurisdictions. Other elements of the current policy, however, limit its effectiveness in reducing emissions. More concerted policy action is needed to mitigate carbon emissions in Alberta for Canada to meet its agreed targets. Originality/value – No other paper has tracked the historical evolution of climate policy at the provincial/state level in a way that clarifies the forward and backward linkages with national and international policy. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Mezbahuddin M.,Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | Mezbahuddin M.,University of Alberta | Grant R.F.,University of Alberta | Hirano T.,Hokkaido University
Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences | Year: 2015

Soil carbon stocks in tropical peatlands have declined recently from water table depth (WTD) drawdown caused by increased frequency and intensity of climate extremes like El Niño and by artificial drainage. Restoration of these carbon stocks under these climatic and anthropogenic disturbances requires improved predictive capacity for hydrological feedbacks to ecological processes. Process-based modeling of tropical peatland ecohydrology could provide us with such capacity, but such modeling has thus far been limited. We aimed at using basic processes for water and O2 transport and their effects on ecosystem water, carbon, and nitrogen cycling to model seasonal and interannual variations of WTD and surface energy exchange. We tested these processes in a process-based model ecosys in a drained tropical Indonesian peatland from an El Niño year 2002 to a wetter year 2005. WTD was modeled from hydraulically driven water transfers controlled vertically by precipitation versus evapotranspiration (ET) and laterally by discharge versus recharge to or from an external reference WTD. These transfers caused WTD drawdown and soil drying to be modeled during dry seasons, which reduced ET and increased Bowen ratio by lowering stomatal conductance. More pronounced dry seasons in drier years 2002-2004 versus wetter year 2005 caused deeper WTD, more intense peat drying, and greater plant water stress. These modeled trends were well corroborated by site measurements as apparent in regression statistics of modeled versus observed WTD (R2 > 0.8), latent heat (R2 > 0.8), and sensible heat (R2 > 0.7) fluxes. Insights gained from this modeling would aid in predicting the fate of tropical peatlands under future drier climates. Key Points Ecosys modeled tropical peatland WTD by a vertical-lateral hydraulic scheme Deeper WTD caused peat drying and reduced stomatal conductance in dry seasons Stomatal limitation to transpiration was stronger in drier dry seasons ©2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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