Green Agriculture Research Gets Boost from Harper Government – Canada Hosts International Environmental Agriculture Conference

Ottawa, Ontario, June 5, 2012 – Producers will have the opportunity to increase their profits while mitigating their impact on the environment, thanks to a partnership between academia and the Harper Government. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced today an investment of more than $3.4 million to the University of Saskatchewan to study how to reduce agricultural greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the areas of agroforestry, irrigation and nitrogen use. Minister Ritz made the announcement just as meetings of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases were commencing in Saskatoon.

"Our Government’s top priority remains the economy, and Canada’s agricultural industry plays a vital role in keeping our economy strong," said Minister Ritz. "Farmers are good stewards of the land, but farming is always changing and environmental practices need to keep pace with that change. The work being done by the University of Saskatchewan is a great way to help farmers and the environment."

Canada is hosting nearly 30 member countries as it officially begins its duties as chair of the Global Research Alliance Council for one year. Launched in 2009, the Global Research Alliance is an international network that brings together both developed and developing countries to collectively find ways to grow more food and develop more climate-resilient agriculture production systems, without increasing GHGs. These new mitigation technologies and beneficial management practices will then be made available to farmers worldwide through the Global Research Alliance.

"Working together with other countries will allow us to identify and develop more solutions for Canadian producers than we could by working alone," said Jamshed Merchant, Assistant Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who is now representing Canada as the chair of the Global Research Alliance Council. "The collaboration of countries under the Global Research Alliance is helping us understand how to reduce losses of carbon and nitrogen—as greenhouse gases—in crop or livestock production systems. This translates into producing more with the same amount of input. For example, Canadian researchers are discovering how to improve nitrogen- and water-use efficiency in irrigated production systems, which means more crop production for the same amount of nitrogen and water and more profit for producers."

The $3.4-million investment to the University of Saskatchewan is through the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a five-year, $27-million initiative that focuses on the development of on-farm greenhouse gas mitigation technologies. The AGGP will provide funding to various partners across Canada to investigate innovative mechanisms, tools and approaches that provide real solutions for the agriculture sector. The AGGP is Canada’s initial contribution to the Global Research Alliance.

"As our world’s population grows, farmers face an increasing challenge to feed everyone adequately, safely and sustainably," said Karen Chad, vice-president of research at the University of Saskatchewan. "Knowledge created by this research in one of our signature areas will help farmers as they strive to produce more food while safeguarding the environment."

This investment will be used for three separate projects:

  • Nearly $980,000 will be used to develop new beneficial management practices for nitrogen-use efficiency in the forage beef sector that minimize nitrous oxide emissions and maximize carbon sequestration;
  • Almost $920,000 will be used to study GHGs in irrigated systems typical of the Prairies. Irrigation is practised on one million hectares of farmland in Canada, and more irrigation will be required to meet the food requirements of a growing world population. Enhancing efficiencies in the supply and utilization of irrigation water has the potential to reduce GHGs while expanding economic opportunity;
  • $1.5 million will be used to study how agroforestry plantings can help mitigate GHGs.

For more information on the Global Research Alliance, visit http://www.globalresearchalliance.org/

For more information, media may contact:

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972

Meagan Murdoch
Director of Communications
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
613-773-1059

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