Sustainability key to new canola targets

Do you think an average bushel of canola can be produced with 18 percent less fuel and 40 percent less land?

Can canola production sequester an extra five million tonnes per year of Canada’s carbon emissions?

Can canola production protect rather than harm 2,000 species of beneficial insects?

Can 90 percent of canola acres be covered by farmers using 4R nutrient management practices?

The Canola Council of Canada says “yes” to all and has set those as part of its daunting 2025 production goals. In 2019 the CCC added “sustainability” to its existing dream of producing 26 million tonnes of canola in Canada by 2025, or an average yield of 52 bu. per acre.

“Tied to the 52 bu. (goal), we also have added sustainability metrics that we’re going to deliver on,” canola council vice-president Curtis Rempel said during the Canola Discovery Forum.

The numbers above, requiring a great increase in on-farm and in-field efficiency in just a few years, are the council’s specific goals.

“If you delivery 52 bu. an acre by 2025, this is what you can expect the western Canadian landscape and world to look like.”

To some, boosting canola production might seem contradictory to the goal of reducing carbon emissions and other harmful aspects of agricultural and human life.

However, Rempel said the world needs healthy products such as canola oil and will be needing more in the future. As a result, he added, Canada can offer food that not only preserves the environment but helps reduce carbon emissions and climate change.

“We have to intensify crop yields,” said Rempel, noting that producing more canola from the same amount of inputs lowers its climate impact and boosts its positive role in sequestering carbon.

It’s not a radical notion to scientists.

“This yield intensification is recognized by experts all over the world as a way of scrubbing CO2.”

However, the public has mostly not yet caught on to the idea, so it will need information about the gains farmers are making, have made and will make. The public needs to know that it doesn’t have to be caught in a food-versus-environment situation.

“If we hit 52 bu. an acre, we can also leave the soil, air and water … in much better shape than we are today,” said Rempel.

“We can hit both objectives.”

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