Fertilizer emission reductions could be achieved through updated data collection models


Fertilizer emission reduction levels could be addressed through a data correction.

Announcement 2


Joy Agnew, associate vice president for applied research at Olds College, said farmers may not have to cut fertilizer use by 30 percent by 2030 to meet federal climate goals. According to her, current data collection models do not adequately account for carbon sequestration and use practices and will be a major focus of future research.


“We will adjust and update that factor and we may get to that 30 percent emissions reduction just based on how emissions are calculated, potentially,” Agnew said. “That’s my opinion. That’s some of my calculations on the back of the envelope, but it’s possible that could come out in pencil that way.”


She said it’s not a guarantee and practices will likely still be required. She noted that there has been considerable research into these practices over the last 30 years and that they are already widely used on the prairies and that advances will continue to be made.

Announcement 3


The climate plan only gives credit to agricultural land for an offset of 4MT or six percent of agricultural emissions.

Alberta Beef Producers president Melanie Wowk noted in July that they are not given credit for carbon capture and storage through pasture and rangeland management. It is believed that this practice could be an important tool in the sequestration and storage of greenhouse gases and there are studies currently underway to map and quantify it.

Stephen Vandervalk, Alberta vice president for Western Canadian Wheat Growers, doesn’t know what else he can do to reduce fertilizer-related emissions on his Fort MacLeod farm.

It has invested millions of dollars in maximizing the efficiency of fertilizers and other inputs while using best practices in sustainable farm management.

Announcement 4


These best practices include the 4R nutrient management program (right fertilizer, right rate, right time, right place), minimum tillage, proper rotations, and equipment that prevents overlap and waste.

He said most prairie farmers are already doing these things.

Meeting the federal government’s target would mean cutting 30 percent of their fertilizer input, which would have an exponentially negative impact on their crops. He put the impact of fertilizers on crops up to seven times, “without that fertilizer they don’t grow.”

“Farms are already net negative, not neutral but net negative, we already absorb more carbon than we use to grow our crops. So none of this makes sense to me,” Vandervalk said. “It’s just a government that has no concept of agriculture, no concept of rural Canada and they have a mission at any cost and they’re just picking and choosing.”

ad 5


The WCWG sounded the alarm about Ottawa’s climate plan goals in late July, pointing to an analysis by Meyers Norris Penny that showed a $9.14 billion loss for prairie farmers, including $2.95 billion. in Alberta, if growers reduce fertilizer use as they have in some European countries.

Tom Steve, general manager of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission, said that Ottawa has not been adequately involved in this initiative.

It took provincial agriculture ministers to raise the issue after meetings with the federal government to create broader awareness of the issue and the WCWG jumped on it.

While Ottawa has since announced that it will extend the consultations through the end of August, Steve said they have been unable to get a direct response from the federal government.

ad 6


“I don’t think the government knows what it wants, it really has been a comedy of errors,” he said. “They have never been able to provide the data to support their claim that we need to go in this direction because Western Canadian farmers have been managing their inputs and reducing their carbon footprint, reducing greenhouse gas emissions through tools like minimum tillage for the last 30 years and have never been duly accredited for it”.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said that there has been a lot of misinformation about the agricultural objectives of the Climate Plan.

The plan notes that agriculture is responsible for 73 tons of greenhouse gases in 2019, which represents about 10 percent of Canada’s total emissions. Additionally, it notes that Alberta (21 percent) and Saskatchewan (18.4 percent) account for nearly 40 percent of Canada’s agricultural emissions. Manitoba added another 7.6 percent. The Prairie Provinces also account for the vast majority of agricultural activity in Canada, a role that has become more important with increasing global food shortages.

ad 7


Agnew said it was important to note that the 30 percent reduction does not apply equally across the board. While Alberta and Saskatchewan account for a higher share of emissions, producers in other provinces have higher emission intensity, such as Ontario or Quebec.

Bibeau said the goal is just a goal and there are currently no plans to enforce it through taxes or other mechanisms.

“Of course the goal is ambitious, but there is nothing mandatory,” he said. “The idea is really to get as many people together as possible to look at best practices, best technologies, and I’m pretty sure there are things that we don’t know yet that we’ll find out in the coming months and years. That will help us achieve our goals.”

He pointed to the 4R program and said the data he has says it represents only 25 percent of agricultural acres.

To support this goal, the MP from Compton-Stanstead, a rural township outside of Sherbrooke, Que. — said that the federal government is investing $1.4 billion in different projects, equipment and research. This includes commitments to expanding smart farms and living labs, which will help speed the conversion of science into practical applications.

[email protected]

Twitter: @JoshAldrich03

ad 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications – you’ll now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there’s an update in a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment