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October 6, 2016

New research could improve cattle grazing

EDMONTON – A new scholarship, established by a $655,000 gift from AltaLink to the University of Alberta, will support graduate students working out of the Rangeland Research Institute (RRI) on how to sustain and protect Alberta’s rangelands. 

Rangelands account for 43 per cent of the province’s agricultural base and provide grazing areas for cattle. Research currently underway at the RRI focuses on studying the grazing patterns of cattle that eat less and gain the same amount as their herd mates. The findings could lead to cost savings for ranchers, improved grazing efficiency, and increased protection of Alberta’s rangelands.

“Adapting and applying knowledge obtained through research into our everyday operation helps our efficiency,” said John Buckley, owner of the QCX Ranch near Cochrane, Alberta. “Research enables us to be more competitive globally via healthier outputs from healthy landscapes.”

Future projects may include studies into understanding grassland function (energy and water flow, nutrient cycling) under different types of disturbance, and the subsequent testing and development of different strategies to lessen the impact of that disturbance.

“We’re very grateful to AltaLink for its leadership in supporting this type of research,” said Dr. Stan Blade, dean of the university’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. “Alberta’s rangelands are vital to our communities and our economy, and this research will give us the evidence we need to make important decisions about how to sustain them.”

AltaLink’s gift will create a permanent scholarship endowment called the AltaLink Master’s Scholarship in Rangeland Disturbance Ecology.

“AltaLink’s transmission network provides power to more than three million Albertans, and the 6,000 landowners, including more than 150 ranchers, across the province that host our facilities play an important role in helping us keep the lights on,” said Dennis Frehlich, AltaLink’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We are making this investment to enable new research that will support Alberta’s ranching community.”

Through the RRI, 17 graduate students currently conduct their research on the 12,000-acre Mattheis Research Ranch near Duchess in southern Alberta, and another 10 at the 12,000-acre Kinsella Ranch on the Aspen Parkland southeast of Edmonton. These two locations provide more than 1,100 days of field work on a variety of research including identifying optimal grazing systems, new reclamation techniques following industrial activities, the development of superior drought adaptation strategies, and even promoting alternate business models to help diversify ranching incomes.

“This funding will support research that generates useful, reliable information and ultimately help rangeland users better manage their activities,” said Dr. Edward Bork, director of the Rangeland Research Institute. “We work with ranchers at field sites across Alberta so that all Canadians will benefit more fully and sustainably from the environmental, social and economic goods and services that our rangelands provide.”

About AltaLink
Headquartered in Calgary, with offices in Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge, AltaLink is Alberta's largest electricity transmission provider. We are committed to meeting the province’s demand for electricity, providing innovative solutions, and partnering with our stakeholders and communities in doing so. AltaLink’s community investment program, Linked to our Communities, supports youth across Alberta every year.

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For more information please contact:

Robin Boschman
Manager, Corporate Communications
AltaLink Management Ltd.
Phone: 403.828-1525
Email: Robin.Boschman@altalink.ca

Robert Moyles
Senior Director, Communications
University of Alberta
Phone:
780.492.4804
E-mail:
moyles@ualberta.ca

 

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