In a groundbreaking study conducted by the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan, Canadian farmers, particularly in Saskatchewan, have emerged as global leaders in low-carbon agriculture.
This revelation challenges claims made by the Trudeau government which has accused grain growers of being among the world’s worst emission offenders.
The study, first commissioned in 2022, analyzed the carbon footprint of key Canadian field crops, including canola, wheat, and lentils. These crops were compared to their counterparts in major exporting regions such as Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States.
The carbon footprint assessment encompassed emissions from crop cultivation, as well as supply chain activities like transportation and processing.
The results paint a compelling picture of Canada’s eco-friendly farming practices. Canadian canola, for instance, boasts a carbon footprint that is 60% lower than the global weighted average.
Saskatchewan, taking the lead, achieves an even more impressive 67% reduction. This means that every tonne of Canadian canola saves over 1.3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the global average.
“These impressive results are driven by the widespread adoption in Saskatchewan of agricultural innovations and sustainable farming practices that have significantly reduced the amount of inputs and emissions needed to farm each acre of land,” said researcher Dr. Steve Webb.
“The sustainable practices include reduced tillage, the adoption of herbicide-tolerant canola, the variable-rate application of fertilizer, a robust crop rotation system, and the production of nitrogen-fixing pulse crops.”
Non-durum wheat production in Canada is also highlighted as the most efficient globally, with a carbon footprint 40% below the international average. Saskatchewan non-durum wheat goes even further, achieving a remarkable 44% reduction. Moreover, Canadian field peas and lentils are shown to have a negative carbon footprint, acting as carbon sinks by absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than emitted.
In 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture sector by 30% below 2020 levels by the year 2030.
The target has been met with criticism by farming groups. The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities recently raised concerns about the target, arguing that it was set without proper consultation with the fertilizer industry or the affected farmers. The group suggests that such measures could lead to significant economic consequences, projecting potential losses of $841 million for wheat and canola farmers in Western Canada.