Canada’s overall record in fighting climate-change may not be stellar, but we have ample reason to be proud of the Prairies’ sustainability-record in agriculture -- studies suggest that Prairie farms are now absorbing more carbon than they emit. Significant strides have been made in the last 3-4 decades though genetically-modified-seeds, zero-tillage practices, shift to better fertilizers, use of less pesticides, and fuel-efficiency improvements in farm-equipment. Despite significant increases in crop-yields and exports, green-house-gas emissions have been reduced by more than half.
Also, we must acknowledge Canada’s natural advantages over most other parts of the world in putting food on the table. There is no need to encroach on forests for more farm-land; yield increases can be relied on to achieve production and export growth-targets for the foreseeable future. There is no danger of soil degradation; zero-tillage has increased from less than 10% to more than 50%, with potential to go all the way to 100%. Also, crop-growth in the Prairies relies on rain; even if irrigation is to be required, Canada has one-fifth the global freshwater reserves.
Despite the Prairies’ impeccable record in sustainable agriculture, driven by natural-advantages as well as technology-advances, our platform’s outlook leaves no room for complacency, as the urgency of the climate-crisis calls for. Every bit of effort counts, and at this critical juncture, nobody can take cover behind the argument that their practices are better than everybody else’s. As an act of social-responsibility, we have an obligation to consider the carbon-footprint of everything we do or touch -- our approach to sustainability reflects this commitment with no bounds or excuses.
Through the material we publish or reference, we will make every effort to provide an objective assessment of the environmental impacts of crop trends, including those we promote in the cause of crop-specialization. We already have an initiative underway to publish a report on this topic, sustainability-record of Prairie agriculture, including the carbon-footprint of the long-distances involved in container-shipments to export-markets. You will be hard pressed to find another region of the world with a better performance record in this regard -- call it a sales-pitch but it is the truth.
Canadian Prairies' Carbon-Footprint
While the Prairies were achieving significant increases in grain output and exports, green-house-gas emissions were shrinking -- in fact reduced by half. Moreover, recent studies show that the grain-economy now absorbs more carbon than it emits, becoming a carbon-sink. Contributing factors were improved farming methods and practices, use of better fertilizers and pesticides, and fuel-efficiency improvements of farming-equipment.
Battling Climate-Change :
Environmental Policy Framework for Agriculture
Looking into the future, this report will get into the details of Canada's environmental-policy framework in battling climate-change. It will present different growth-scenarios under alternative crop-mix assumptions. It will demonstrate how crop-yields can be increased to achieve export-growth, while continuing to shrink the carbon-footprint, with no reliance on irrigation, no soil-degradation, and no further encroachment on forests or wet-lands.