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Agriculture

Extreme Weather Patterns Causing State of Agricultural Emergency in Canada

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We welcome guest writers to all of our Todayville platforms. Here’s a submission from Emily Folk.  Emily is passionate about agricultural sustainability and more of her work can be found on her site, Conservation Folks.

Extreme Weather Patterns Causing State of Agricultural Emergency in Canada

Climate change is spurring intense droughts and floods around the world, leading to crop failures. While corporations and consumers look for ways to reverse the impact of global warming, farmers are dealing with the consequences now.

Canada has high hopes for impending weather shifts. As temperatures rise, the country could gain access to more fertile land. Yet, it’s also dealing with new challenges, including droughts and constant rain.

A Lack of Moisture

Twelve counties in Manitoba declared a state of agricultural emergency due to a severe drought, leaving farmers unable to produce enough feed for cattle. While some are paying to transport hay, others are opting to sell.

Dianne Riding, VP of the Manitoba Beef Producers, says her farm produces around 1,800 bales of hay in a typical season. Last year, they had 500 — this season, only 250. With her reserves depleted, she says she won’t have enough to feed her 130 cows.

Some farmers are transitioning to regenerative agricultural practices in an attempt to prevent livestock from decimating plant life. Other countries, such as China, have already used this method to restore 3.7 million acres of land and increase grain production by 60%.

Canada’s ability to navigate climate change will hinge on its management of water resources. Its prairies, which make up 80% of farmland, were hit by the infamous Dust Bowl in the 1930s. According to researchers, it’s a problem that could repeat itself as temperatures rise.

Federal organizations are establishing green initiatives to simplify environmental shifts. Many corporations are also transitioning to eco-friendly practices, both due to environmental concern and buyer demand. Globally, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from a sustainable company.

A Downpour of Rain

In other parts of the country, excess moisture is an issue. Lac Ste. Anne County in north-central Alberta has declared a state of agricultural emergency due to persistent showers and early snowfall. Between mid-June and the end of July, the county received 406 millimeters of rain.

One significant issue is livestock feed. With wet fields, farmers have difficulty accessing their crops. When they do, the hay often isn’t dry enough to safely and correctly bail it.

Stacey Berry, the county’s assistant manager of agricultural services, reports some fields are seeing upwards of 80% crop death. The goal of the state of emergency is to make it easier for farmers to file insurance claims for losses.

Nearby Leduc County, 30 kilometers south of Edmonton, also declared a local state of agricultural disaster. Similar to in Lac Ste. Anne, the poor weather affected the quality and quantity of yields.

An Eventual Warming

The federal government recently released a warning that droughts, floods and violent storms will increase in frequency. As a result of climate change, experts predict most regions of Canada will warm during the next 60 years. As the country is high-latitude, warming will be more pronounced than the global average.

As the droughts increase, crop yields will decline. Warmer summers could boost the number of heat-wave-related deaths, especially in poultry operations. Plus, diminished weight gain in cattle could lead to reduced milk and dairy production.

In addition to extreme weather events and decreased yield, climate change will also affect disease and pests. Higher levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) will lead to greater weed growth and the prevalence of pests and pathogens. The range, frequency and severity of insect and disease infections may rise drastically.

An Opportunity to Expand

In Canada, rising temperatures could be a beneficial opportunity for farmers, opening up millions of once frozen acres. The amount of arable land in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan alone could increase up to 40% by 2040.

Most regions will likely become warmer, with longer pest-free seasons and increased evaporation. The higher temperatures require less feed for livestock, benefiting production and survival rates. It could also benefit soil health by enhancing carbon sequestration and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Farmers hope to capitalize on the warmer conditions by exporting food to regions hit by crop failure. The world agricultural production will need to increase by 50% by 2050 to keep up with population growth.

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I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

 

 

 

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Agriculture

Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

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Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

Developments are increasingly taking over Canadian farmland. Farms once took up much of Canadian land. However, that case is not true today. Only about 5% of Canada’s land is considered prime farmland. This prime land borders one of Canada’s fastest-growing regions, and once suburban development overtakes it, Canadian farmers will have a challenging time providing food for the cities.

Farmers in Canada make their livelihood by planting, growing, harvesting and distributing food to the Canadian populations. Without land, both farmers and the rest of those living in Canada will not get fresh, Canadian grown produce.

Here are some reasons why Canadian farmers should care about land loss:

  1. Farmland Provides Food

While this is an apparent reason, it’s an essential one. Prime farmland in Canada produces food for major Canadian cities. As farmers continue to lose land, they have to rely on a smaller acreage to make the same amount of food — if not more — for the growing population.

Over the past 10 years, almost 1 million hectares of agricultural land has diminished due to development and growing populations. Agriculture continues to adapt to land loss. However, further technological advancements must first take place to grow enough produce vertically rather than horizontally.

  1. Land Preservation Will Help the Economy

Farmland preservations come with a wealth of economic benefits. Agriculture contributes to the economy through the following ways:

  • Sales: For the economy to survive, there needs to be consumer demands and sales. Almost everyone purchases produce, so there will always be a demand for those goods. Without land to grow agricultural products, no sales will be made, and the economy could suffer.
  • Job opportunities: Less than 2% of Canada’s population works in the agriculture industry. While it’s not much, that’s still over 750,000 people. Preserving farmland shows a commitment to the industry. Land loss would create job loss. However, maintaining the farmland — and even reclaiming it, along with pastures — could boost the sector and, therefore, the economy. It would provide unemployed people with job security.
  • Secondary markets: Farmers are just one part of the food business. Because of farmers and farmland, secondary markets can thrive. These would include processing businesses, restaurants, schools, grocery stores and even waste management companies.

Canadian farmers should care about land loss because standing back and allowing companies to overtake the farmland could seriously affect the economy.

  1. Farmland Benefits the Environment

Wildlife often depends upon farmland for both food and habitat. Various types of farmland create diverse habitats for many different species. Without land protection, these habitats and food sources would be destroyed, leaving many animals without a place to survive. Many would have difficulty finding a native habitat.

Additionally, growing crops helps eliminate some of the carbon dioxide released into the air. Air pollution could decrease for Canadian cities as long as no more farmland is used for development.

One major problem occurring with Canadian farmland is desertification. This happens when the soil loses nutrients and becomes barren. The urbanization of Canadian farmland is the primary contributor to desertification, which speeds up climate change and harms the environment. Keeping farmland as-is will slow down climate change.

  1. Land Loss Affects Farmers’ Jobs

Perhaps the main reason why Canadian farmers should care about land loss is because their livelihood could be taken away. If they don’t have the means to keep up with technological advancements in the agricultural industry, they will not be able to continue their jobs if they experience land loss.

Agriculture is an essential industry. Not everyone can pick up the skills needed to grow their own food, and so many people depend upon farmers for nutrition and goods.

Take a Stand to Preserve Farmland

Farmland is a worthwhile and precious resource for many people. Reduction in farmland acreage will hurt Canadian farmers and the rest of the population, the economy and the environment. Taking steps to prevent more land loss can slow the rates of destruction and keep natural habitats thriving for both humans and animalls.

Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Agriculture

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

It’s no secret that agriculture has contributed to climate change through various means. For example, you may know that livestock generates greenhouse gas emissions due to how farms process it. That said, it’s now clear that farmers have found sustainable ways to offset those contributions. In Canada, it’s all about energy use.

Here’s how Canadian farmers have become more efficient as they raise crops and livestock, setting a standard the world should follow.

Energy Demand and Consumption Have Fluctuated

The demand for energy has increased across the agricultural sector as a whole. However, it’s key to note that farmers have begun to use less energy despite that fact. That points to more efficient practices. The farmers who complete their work productively save time, money and energy. As a result, Canadian workers have reduced their energy consumption per dollar by 17%. That’s thanks to sustainability.

The most common energy sources include fuel, gas and electricity. It’s how farmers use those resources that counts. Combined with technology choices and new practices, it’s clear that efficiency is more achievable than ever.

What Contributes to This Phenomenon?

It’s crucial for people in agriculture to explore eco-friendly alternatives. The grasslands that many western Canadian farmers cultivate contains excess carbon, so you can imagine what the country as a whole holds underneath its surface. Farmers have now adopted new methods to adjust how they harvest their crops. These systems are better for production, as well as soil and seed health overall.

The agriculture industry has gone through many changes, too. There are fewer farms — but those that still operate have employed agricultural technology to be as efficient as possible. These tools include different equipment that cuts down on time to increase proficiency. Plus, it’s now more common to use solar power as an alternative to traditional energy solutions.

Why Accuracy and Precision Matters

It’s a lot easier to be energy efficient when you don’t waste your resources. The means farmers practiced before they used specific innovations often created a time deficit. If you have a smaller machine, you likely need to do twice as much work. However, when you have access to equipment that fits your field, you don’t have to be as wasteful. The accuracy and precision created by technology make this a reality.

Soil Conservation Is Led by Ranchers

Many farmers have looked to ranchers for help. It’s a native part of ranching to preserve topsoil and other elements that are inherently sustainable. As a result, it seems like ranchers have been leading the charge against climate change for decades. The tactics they use to avoid tilling soil, for example, help preserve the amount of carbon that lies underneath the Earth’s surface.

The “no-till” practice is efficient in its own right. Rather than till your soil to plant a new crop, you simply leave behind what’s already there. This method is much better for soil nutrition, and it can keep carbon exposure at bay. As a result, you have much fewer carbon emissions. In general, the idea of soil conservation isn’t a new one, but old tricks can still work alongside modern technology.

The Future of Agriculture in Canada Looks Bright

If farmers continue on this path, it’ll be clear that climate solutions are at the forefront of their minds. These efforts create more benefits for them as they save time and money. Plus, there’s always the responsibility of maintaining the planet’s health. After all, without a strong ecosystem, agriculture would suffer. Through means that are more accurate and conservative, Canadian farmers have been able to become more efficient. Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

 

 

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