Be Assured: Farmers are Curbing their Environmental Footprint with Sustainability Practices
Alberta’s agriculture industry is one of the largest industries in the province and crop production makes up a significant portion of the industry. Since consumers are more attuned to their environmental footprint, we thought we would shed some light on how the agriculture industry is going above and beyond to implement environmentally sustainable practices that benefit the province in more ways than one.
1. Reducing Herbicide Usage
Weed control at an early stage is essential for growing healthy crops, such as canola, and there is no denying that herbicides are still used as a means to protect crops from the pesky weeds that can overtake them in the early stages of growth. However, due to minimum and zero-tillage practices, as well as the more common herbicide-tolerant canola strains, farmers are using half the weed treatments they used to.
2. Protecting the Bee Population
Canola farmers understand the importance of pollinators in the canola industry as they support higher crop yields and better ripening, and encourage a healthier environment. Because of this, they work closely with beekeepers to ensure their practices are protecting pollinators. Scouting fields regularly helps farmers know which insects are in their fields and enables conservative spraying for insects and pests. When farmers need to apply a pesticide, they are very conscious to apply it at a time when bees are less active, either early in the morning or later in the evening. Beekeepers and canola farmers maintain a good working relationship on the land to ensure both industries are supporting each other and thriving.
3. Soil Building and Sequestration
Conservation tillage, such as minimum or zero-tillage practices, support the soil and help to curb the carbon footprint. By seeding without turning the soil, farmers are not only able to add organic matter to their soil, but they also keep greenhouse gases like carbon in the ground, rather than releasing them into the atmosphere. In fact, according to the Canola Council of Canada, “every year, 2.64 million tonnes of greenhouse gases stay out of the air we breathe thanks to conservation tillage.” (Canola Council of Canada)
4. Fuel Reduction
With farmers practicing conservation tillage, this means there is less need for farmers to be passing over their fields with large, fuel guzzling equipment. In fact, “farmers who use zero-tillage practices, use one-third less fuel than those who farm with conventional tillage practices,” according to the Canola Council of Canada.
5. Locally Grown
While many crops are exported to international markets, a bulk of crops such as canola oil, wheat (flour, pasta, bread), barley (beer) and pulses (beans, lentils) are also sold right here in Alberta. This can offer some peace of mind for consumers who are concerned about the environmental footprint of their food. Consumers can be assured when they purchase canola products that those products are locally grown and travel a short distance from one of the many farms in Alberta to their table!
To learn more about canola production in Alberta visit www.albertacanola.com
The views expressed in this document are those of Taste Alberta and do not necessarily reflect the provincial and federal governments.