You have come to an informative site, the virtual-home of West-Central Forage Association. WCFA is a non-profit, membership based, agricultural research organization that serves forage and livestock producers in the west central region of Alberta and beyond with a face on the world wide web!
On this site we aim to bring you the information you can access when you come to visit us in Evansburg, minus the coffee and smiles.
We will also keep you posted on our many events that introduce new agricultural technologies and concepts, and even non-sector related material that none-the-less can provide insight into agricultural production today. This will allow you to stay up to date on our projects, which can vary in anything from annual and perennial forage trials to silvopasture projects to supporting local watershed groups.
So please, feel free to peruse the site, we hope that you find what we are doing as interesting as we ourselves feel it is.
Annually, a selected group of representatives, on behalf of Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), travel Alberta-wide to evaluate nominees and recognizes an operation that demonstrates leadership in environmental stewardship – one that contributes to the land while improving productivity and profitability. The ESA judging team is typically made up of three members of the ABP Environment Committee, as well as last year's award winner, and one judge from an outside organization.
West-Central Forage has over 140 members over the province of Alberta and we would not be as successful as we are today without these great stewards of the land. Since 2011 we have had 3 members win this prestigious award.
We are proud to share with everyone that Tom Thompson of Winding Creek Ranch, has been awarded the Alberta Beef Producers Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA) for 2017. Tom is more than deserving of this award, and West-Central is grateful to receive acknowledgement from Tom for a role in his achievements.
Winding Creek Ranch is a cow calf operation that rotationally grazes 500 acres, with 700 acres of hay crops.
“Growing up there was something always pulling me into this direction… being a steward of the land. What sustainability means to me is, what you’re doing today, will this carry on for generations,” said Thompson.
Frustrated with some outcomes, Tom attended a seminar on matching production cycles with grazing cycles that was hosted by West-Central Forage Association and he began to make significant improvements to his operation. After incorporating changes to his winter grazing, watering systems and power fencing for rotational grazing, Tom completed an Environmental Farm Plan.
“When the forage and the grass are growing, and the animals are happy… you will be profitable and sustainable. My stewardship goals are to keep the animals and the plants healthy, growing and viable,” said Thompson.
When rotationally grazing his animals, Tom adheres to the adage of eat half, leave half so the grass has plenty of time for rest. Cattle bale graze through the winter months to recycle nutrients back into the soil. Riparian areas and dugouts are fenced to keep cattle out, and water is pumped to solar powered watering systems.
“I’m out in the sunshine working with plants and animals. When you have a passion for something it isn’t really work. We’re just caretakers here… borrowing this land from the next generation,” said Thompson.
To view the ABP ESA video for Tom : https://vimeo.com/194756179