Bringing the Soil Back to How It Used to Be: a presentation on soil health by Blain Hjertaas

The Gravelbourg Economic Development Office will host a presentation on soil health and the benefits and risks of regenerative agriculture for local producers. Come hear Blain Hjertaas speak on the subject of soil health at the Centre Culturel Maillard on 133 Fifth Ave East in Gravelbourg on November 6 at 7 p.m. The cost will be $10 per person, or $15 per farm unit.

These are very uncertain times for the Saskatchewan farmer. Trade disputes and other global factors have contributed to market instability as input prices rise with inflation. There has also been a trend in consumer politics where there’s demands for stricter environmental policies. Consumers are also raising concerns over the potential long and short-term health impacts of products and processes commonly used in the agricultural sector. Furthermore, the latest data from agronomists and farmer advocates such as Don Lobb point to evidence of a soil crisis fast at hand. It all often leaves producers feeling like they’ve got their backs against a wall, while trying to uphold their responsibilities to feed a growing population by maintaining high quality and consistent yields.

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Fortunately, it is not all bad news. There are a variety of scientifically proven, cost-effective and innovative production techniques beginning to prove successful as farmers find ways to do what farmers must: keep farming. One such approach is regenerative agriculture. Imagine being able to bring the soil back into the rich state it was when it was first turned? This prospect is worth considering as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture lobbies to have agriculture regarded as an offset sector under Canada’s Carbon Offset System. As Canada realizes the tremendous potential of commercial farms to sequester atmospheric carbon, greater opportunities will be created to improve soil health for producers and they’ll get paid for it too.

If anyone is interested in learning more about what regenerative agriculture could mean for their operations, attend the presentation by Blain Hjertaas - a third generation farmer from Redvers with over 45 years of experience in the field. Hjertaas began his career using a conventional high-tech approach. After 20 years of fighting increasingly narrow margins, he made a major change and his family’s operation has seen tremendous improvements in the health of their land ever since. This event fuelled his passion about soil health and its relationship to farm profitability. After all, what’s good for the land is good for the farmer.

Mr. Hjertaas’ practical insights to the industry have helped light the way towards the future of farming as a speaker at many major conferences across the continent. In 2018, Hjertaas and his wife Naomi were honoured by the Saskatchewan Stock Growers by receiving the TESA – an award recognizing their outstanding stewardship of land on a livestock operation.

Hjertaas has also became very interested in carbon sequestration. He began measuring sequestration rates on many farms across the eastern prairies in partnership with the Soil Carbon Coalition. Most recently, Blain was hired as a soil health consultant by Understanding Ag to deliver the General Mills pilot regenerative program to 40 farmers in the eastern prairies. Now, Hjertaas is coming to Gravelbourg to share his wealth of knowledge with local producers. To register, call the Gravelbourg Economic Development Office at (306) 648-3301 ext. 4 or email