Farmers are bearing the brunt of the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change. According to Agriculture Canada, the increased frequency of extreme climate events like droughts, floods and severe storms could have devastating effects on crop yields.
Yet in 2016, the agriculture sector was responsible for 10% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, Canada is seeking a 30% overall reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 (versus 2005 levels), but according to government forecasts, agricultural sector emissions are projected to increase by 2030.
Équiterre believes that the earth in our farmers’ fields are an important part of Canada’s solution to the climate crisis. Now a member of the pan-Canadian Farmers for Climate Solutions coalition, Équiterre is making climate agriculture one of its new principal action areas.
A solution: Healthy soil
It’s hard to imagine the connection between microorganisms in our soil and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But such is the case, and the connection plays an important role.
How? In “healthy” soil, plants capture carbon from the air and sequester it in the soil with the help of its microorganisms. This natural process means that healthy soil does not need chemical (nitrogen) fertilizers to remain fertile - and by reducing these fertilizers we help curb GHG emissions!
Regenerative agriculture practices to restore soil health, have numerous additional benefits beyond reducing GHG emissions. Not only do they enhance soil fertility and by extension crop yield, they also enhance the nutritional quality of the food, water filtration and absorption capacity, and biodiversity. Lastly, farms that institute such practices become considerably more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Enhancing soil health is thus a winning strategy for everyone: farmers, consumers, biodiversity… the entire planet!
Unfortunately, Canada's soil is not in great shape. Soil degradation is significant in some parts of the country, according to the soil organic matter indicator. Quebec is among the most deeply affected regions.
In agriculture, adapting to climate impacts and curbing emissions by focusing on soil health require little in the way of new or costly technologies. And here’s the good news:
innovative farmers are already doing it in Canada!
What can we do?
We all eat the produce cultivated by our farmers. Let’s honour the farmers who take care of Mother Nature, by supporting them, choosing our food with care and talking about these issues with the people around us!
- Visit the Équiterre website to learn more
- Share this video honouring #soilchampions;
- Take action by supporting the Farmers for Climate Solutions campaign;
Learn about farmers who are already implementing these practices
- François and Mélina at Bontés de la Vallée - Article in Caribou
- Paul Slomp from the Grazing Days farm in UnPointCinq
- Jocelyn Michon in the magazine La terre de chez nous
- Brooks and Jen White from the Borderland Agriculture farm in the Manitoba Co-operator farm magazine
- Report in La Semaine Verte on soil health in relation to corn crops