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The Communicator

February 2024 Issue – See All

The world of seed technology: things to know for 2024

With science changing along with the seasons, we look at the world of seed technology, offering a forecast.

Views, Considerations & Unknowns for 2024

With 2024 upon us, the agriculture trade show and seminar season is now in full swing.

5 agricultural technology trends to watch in 2024

As more Canadian farmers are accepting of new technologies over ye olde tried and true, look at some ways more AgTech can improve the sector’s lot.

CN expands its central US reach

Canadian National has agreed to purchase the agricultural Iowa Northern Railway.

The world is not enough

Wanting to do their part in reducing global GHG emissions, Canadian farmers still can’t catch a break from federal tax fees. But what’s going on around the world?

Increasing your company’s brand reputation

A well-thought-out brand marketing campaign will help you grow and promote your brand.

The current state of global agricultural testing

Using just-in-time technology to thwart the spread of pathogenic disease in ag.

Show your mature workforce the love they deserve

Learn how the top employers support the ever-evolving needs of their employees through their changing career phases.

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Is net zero agriculture production achievable?

At the Sustainability of Canadian Agriculture Conference 2023, hosted by University of Manitoba’s National Centre for Livestock and the Environment and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in March, Henry Janzen, Honorary Research Associate, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, Alberta stated that the possibility of net-zero GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from production agriculture as highly unlikely because of too much leakage.

By Mitch Rezansoff, Executive Director

He described the reality of the world we live in—GHGs are produced by nature, as soil, grasslands, forages, forests, and wetlands all release and sequester GHGs. Researchers evaluating GHG emissions from synthetic fertilizers describe naturally-occurring GHGs as background release. Are there opportunities to significantly reduce agriculture GHGs by operation—the answer is yes. It also demonstrates why an absolute reduction of GHGs specific to a single farm operation (synthetic fertilizer application) is not a sound goal outright.

The goal is unachievable as currently defined. AAFC (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), ECCC (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and universities have spent the winter engaging farmers, farm and commodity associations, the general public, eNGO’s (environmental non-government organizations, and indigenous groups to gauge input, direction and focus the direction of agriculture GHG emissions reduction and sustainability of agriculture. At the same time, significant real research results were provided supporting and not confirming the current ideology or proposed solutions. What was confirmed outright, was the need to engage farmers producing 80 percent of Canada’s commodities. One size does not fit all. Focus on farm solutions that will provide the greatest impact within the next three to five years. Medium to extra-large farms and organizations representing them need to be unapologetic about their needs and solutions. The farms described are the producers of Canada’s exports. When these operations contributed the message was clear, we do not support any initiative that reduces the profitability and viability of the operation. Provide us with real-world research and data, solutions that improve efficiencies, and profitability. The adoption will be ubiquitous, as was demonstrated with the GPS (global positioning systems) on powered equipment in the ’90s.

Another way to interpret the comment; any attempts to mandate BMPs (Best Management Practices) that reduce profitability will not be endorsed. My add to this statement; if you want to keep farm quality of life where it is today, opportunities to transition family farms to sons, daughters, and grandchildren do not burden farmers with added costs or paperwork complexity.

Recent research data confirmed what farmers already knew and practice today. Specific fertilizers with efficiency products can be broadcast on minimum and zero tillage in Western Canada operations and significantly reduce GHG emissions and nitrogen losses.

Sustainable agriculture production was and continues to be a topic following Canada’s Strengthen Climate Plan public engagement process. The definition of sustainable agriculture production is complex and more complicated than emissions reduction goals. Food processors, politics, ideology, and consumer groups now enter the conversation. Each defines and demands its version of sustainable production. European Commission Farm 2 Fork, New Green Deal, Organic Certified, and naturally produced come to mind. When evaluating modern agriculture production vs the mandated production practices, how sustainable are they long-term? The fact is sustainability can only be measured in the long term. The impact of crop rotations utilizing legumes, forages, and manures, integrating livestock grazing, minimum, and zero tillage. Agronomic and animal production sustainability are not the only measures of sustainability. Environment load, profitability, and quality of life must be equally measured. A new term added is socially sustainable agriculture production. I have no idea what that means.

What is the correct goal and solution? It must be science-based that benefits the farmer first and delivers high-quality, nutritious, and safe products to consumers at an economical price. Production output based vs absolute reduction. Whole farm sequestration and emissions. Ideology changes over time and as demonstrated in Europe today, can result in division, disruption, increased costs, and decreased food security. Canada is an exporting nation and can demonstrate to global importers our agriculture production expertise is to be followed and not dictated.

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