A researcher at the University of Saskatchewan is hoping that a national survey on crop rotations will shed new light on the contributions that farmers have made toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Stuart Smyth, a professor from the U of S, has launched an online survey aimed at learning more about rotational practices and how they have changed over the past few decades.
Among other things, the survey is intended to learn more about cropping patterns since the advent of herbicide tolerant crops and the positive impact that continuous cropping has had on the environment, particularly in regard to reducing GHGs.
“We wanted to conduct a farm level survey that looks at crop rotation changes from the early ’90s, prior to when herbicide tolerant crops were available, to present crop rotations so that we could get a sense of what has changes … and how much it has changed,” said Smyth.
“There is a real lack in the ag sector of very solid benchmarking data.”
He added that Canada recently committed to stricter greenhouse gas reduction targets so illustrating agriculture’s contribution to the cause will become more important.
“My concern is that with a lack of reliable data showing the contributions that agriculture has already made in reducing greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, the agriculture industry is going to be burdened with additional taxes and costs.”
Smyth said the reduction of summerfallow acres and the minimal tillage and continuous cropping practices on western Canadian farms has had a significant positive environmental impact.
To encourage participation, Smyth and fellow researchers have approached producer groups and commodity organizations to explain the survey’s intent and outline potential benefits that could be derived from it.
The survey will also produce data related to changes in on-farm chemical use and changes in fertilizer use patterns since the introduction of herbicide tolerant crops.
“To my awareness, I’m not familiar with anybody who’s done a study that looks at (whether) fertilizer use has changes with the adoption of herbicide tolerant crops.”
Growers interested in completing the online survey are required to visit tinyurl.com/croprotationsurvey2016 to register.
Upon registration, growers will receive links to different segments of the survey. Each segment of the survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and one in every 100 survey participants will receive a $250 credit, applied to a fuel purchase or a credit card.