Cultivating a Greener Future on Dairy Farms in 2024

Tree Canada

In a world where environmental concerns are top of mind for many people, Tree Canada is forging innovative partnerships to address these pressing issues. One such collaboration is a new initiative with Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) to offer funding to plant trees on dairy farms across the country.

This pilot program, unveiled in 2024, will provide technical support and regional resources to assist with completing mass seedling plantings on dairy farms. Planting trees on farms can help protect soil, improve air and water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat. Moreover, these sustainability practices are part of the dairy sector’s overall commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Increasing the presence of trees on Canadian dairy farms will not only sequester carbon from the atmosphere but also advance this goal.

Aerial view of a dairy farm
Dairy Farm, British Columbia | Photo courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada

Featured image and this image courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada

To qualify for the program, dairy farms must have a minimum plantable area of 0.25 hectares, providing ample space for at least 600 tree seedlings. Eligible properties range from marginal agricultural lands to areas affected by natural disturbances like wildfires, windstorms, or insect outbreaks. Additionally, properties can include those aimed at enhancing existing habitat features such as woodlands, grasslands, or riparian areas. Another eligible category involves planting shelterbelts or windbreaks along field perimeters.

Four exciting tree planting projects are currently underway in the Upper Thames River watershed, near London and Woodstock, Ontario. Robert Davies, the Forestry and Restoration Supervisor at Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA), underscores the invaluable support provided through this initiative, “We were lucky to work with Tree Canada on these projects. With [their support], we are able to offer these landowners significant grants to reduce the overall cost of their project.”

In collaboration with the UTRCA, 4,800 seedlings will be planted along the perimeters of eight fields, spanning four dairy farm businesses to establish windbreaks and diverse shelterbelts. Planting will begin this spring and will include various tree species, including white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), white pine (Pinus strobus), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and red oak (Quercus rubra).

VanderSpek Farm, Woodstock, Ontario | Photo courtesy of Kaitland and Andrew VanderSpek

Photo courtesy of Kaitland and Andrew, Ontario

One of these projects will take place on dairy farmers Kaitland and Andrew’s property in Ontario. A total of 450 white cedar trees will be planted along the perimeter of their cropped field with the objective of mitigating the effects of wind erosion. They are excited about this initiative, saying, “We viewed this project as a long-term investment and solution that will benefit our farm for many years to come.”


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