A Longview cattle producer was among the crowd in Edmonton last week at the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing.

Alex Robertson, who's also the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association Vice-Chair, says he enjoyed listening to speaker Gabe Brown and his five principles of soil health.

"Eliminating disturbance, keep the soil covered, plant diversity, keep roots in the soil, then integrate animals into the whole system," Robertson lists. "That's basically mother nature's way of how the lands evolved."

He says the healthier the soil is, the greater the water retention, and the higher the organic matter.

"Our soils have been depleted in organic matter over the last hundred years, probably from 7,8 percent down to 2 or 3 percent through continuous cropping, so if you can get this organic matter returned, which is actual carbon out of the atmosphere, to build the organic matter, then it helps in both ways."

Robertson explains this also increases the life in the soils, adding one teaspoon of soil has more microbes than the number of people on the planet.

He points to the growth in attendance as one of the big highlights of last week's conference. 

Robertson says the event taking place every other year was sold out for the second time in a row, with attendance increasing from 100 people to 550 since the last event.

He says soil health and grazing is an important topic, as producers are always challenged by those saying cattle are bad for the environment.

Robertson says cattle are needed in the ecosystem to help sequester carbon.

"They actually aren't contributing methane that badly, but they're doing more sequestering carbon through their grazing practices," he said. "They're actually a net-zero, or less than zero, in the whole cycle of their life for GHG's (greenhouse gas emissions)."