Saskatchewan farmers are producing some of the world’s most sustainable crops, according to a study commissioned by the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan in partnership with the Food Systems PRISM Lab at the University of British Columbia.
The study, conducted in 2022, analyzed the carbon footprint of five Canadian field crops – canola, non-durum wheat, field peas, durum wheat, and lentils – and compared them to global competitors, including Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. The results show that Canadian producers, particularly in Saskatchewan and Western Canada, produce crops with the fewest greenhouse gas emissions or carbon dioxide equivalents.
“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 GIFS Chief Executive Officer Dr. Steve Webb, in a release.
Some of the sustainable practices employed by Saskatchewan farmers include reduced tillage, herbicide-tolerant canola adoption, variable-rate fertilizer application, robust crop rotation, and nitrogen-fixing pulse crops, which result in crops with the fewest greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, Canadian growers, led by Saskatchewan farmers, were identified as the most sustainable producer of non-durum wheat. Notably, no-till farming and reduced fertilizer applications in Saskatchewan field peas resulted in a carbon footprint over 95% lower than any other region studied. Lentils exhibited a 130% lower carbon footprint, while the carbon footprint for canola production is 67% lower than the global average.
While highlighting the study results, Dr. Webb stressed the need for continued growth and scalability of sustainable farming practices. He hopes the insights gleaned from this study, which are a win for Canada, will inform science-based decisions at the national and international levels for Canadian agriculture and its producers.