Agriculture by its very definition is the cultivation of land and breeding of animals and plants to provide food, fiber, medicinal plants and other products to sustain and enhance life. In Canada, the agriculture and agri-food industry contribute over $110 billion annually to the country’s gross domestic product as of April 10, 2018. Approximately 673 thousand square kilometers of land is used for agriculture. Although this figure seems large, it represents only 7 percent of Canada’s overall landmass.
Canada exports a majority of farmed food and animals. Half of beef/cattle, 70% of soybeans, 70% of pork, 75% of wheat, 90% of canola and 95% of pulses are exported yearly. Over 90 percent of Canada’s farmers are dependent on exporting as their main source of income.
Agriculture in Canada could become a ‘Global Food Production Powerhouse’ and here’s how you can get in on the times.
What Is Sustainable Food Production
Sustainable food production means more than expanding the food supply. It includes social, economic and ecological considerations. Infrastructure, storage, waste reduction and improving and preserving water quality are just a few examples of how wide the sustainable food production field is. Each one of the examples are critical to achieving global food security. As the demand for food increases, climate changes and ecosystem degradation unfortunately create new road bumps in the way of sustainable food production.
Sustainable agriculture has an important role to play in preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, halting biodiversity loss and caring for valued landscapes- all of which will help eliminate the previous obstacles that were in the way of sustainable food production. This benefits the environment by maintaining soil quality, reducing soil degradation and erosion, and saving water. In addition to these benefits, sustainable agriculture also increases biodiversity of the area by providing a variety of organisms with healthy and natural environments to live in. All these benefits do need work to be put in to be attainable. This type of farming typically requires 2.5 times more labor than conventional farming, but it yields 10 times the profit.
Sustainable Food Production Around the World
Other countries around the world are also familiar with sustainable food production.
Chinese agriculture faced major environmental challenges in the Spring of 2015. Excessive uses of fertilizers and pesticides were among the highest in the world. On top of that, soil erosion, soil pollution and loss of agricultural biodiversity were widespread. Water scarcity affected many parts of the country, as shown by plummeting water tables in Northern China. These problems caused domestic and international impacts. China is a major exporter of both fresh produce and processed foods as well as grain, soybeans and other agricultural commodities. The country had to make changes in how the farmed. Shifting to more sustainable production methods included improvements in the environment and public health in China and beyond. In particular, reducing greenhouse gases associated with the food system would have global environment benefits.
Methods Used for Sustainable Food Production
There are many practices commonly used by people working in sustainable agriculture. The concept of sustainable agriculture embraces a wide range of techniques, including organic, free-range, low-input, holistic, and biodynamic. An example of that, to protect and enhance the productivity of the soil one may use cover crops, compost and/or manure or avoid ‘traffic’ on wet soils or maybe covering with plants mulches. 100% sustainable food production may become costly, but there are also ‘non-wallet-breaking’ methods.
- Increase the average productivity of the world’s major crops by 20% without using more land, water or inputs. Technology and know-how will help growers produce more food without using more inputs. We need more resilient seeds that need less water and chemicals making crops more efficient.
- improve the fertility of millions of hectares of farmland on the brink of degradation by raising awareness of the importance of soil conservation among value chain partners, government institutions and academics as well as farmers. We need to actively promote the message that conservation agriculture – based on minimum soil disturbance, crop rotation and permanent ground cover – is a viable element of climate-smart agriculture. It helps reduce emissions, prevents land degradation, improves food security and increases farm and community resilience.
- The sustainability of agriculture relies on biodiversity – for plant breeding, pollination and food diversity. But biodiversity is declining fast as species habitats are lost, and climate change increases the risks.
Let us promote and enable action to reverse this trend.
Want to learn more about farming in Saskatchewan? Contact Douglas Rue of Freshwater Land Holding or visit www.Cafarmland.com.