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This is Native Prairie Appreciation week!

Native Prairie Appreciation week is a time to recognize the important role the native prairie plays in the ecosystem.

Carolyn Gaudet is the Manager of Saskatchewan's Prairie Conservation Action Plan. 

She says Native Prairie Appreciation Week is a great opportunity to educate and engage with people with diverse backgrounds about native prairie.

"The diversity of plants, animals and insects found on native prairie is amazing and unfortunately disappearing, so we want to encourage everyone to learn more about native prairie and find out how they can support this fragile ecosystem."

Dr Sean Asslin is a Forage Breeder with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current Research and Development Centre. 

He says native grasses play an important role and historically have been the foundation of early agriculture on the prairies.

"In large swaths of Saskatchewan, we do rely on our native range land for our cattle production. They are in many senses very low input systems, so we're not having to reseed every year. We don't have that seed cost and we don't have to be adding nutrition back onto the landscape, be it any type of fertilizer."

The majority of Asslin's work focuses on native plant breeding. 

He notes one thing that he's starting to look in his breeding program is establishment characteristics of native legumes.

"Seeing if we have genetic variation for things like early vigor on establishment. So that instead of planting a plot, and it comes up three years later, having a plot that comes up in the same year."

Agriculture Minister David Marit says producers know that sustainable grazing management of native pastures supports biodiversity on these ecologically important lands, sustainable growth in production of their operations, and will maintain this ecosystem for generations to come.

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