DRAFT

 

  1. Executive Summary
  2. The reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) present in the atmosphere has become a major policy initiative of the Canadian federal and provincial governments.

     

    Farmers are generally unaware of the amount of GHG released through their use of fuels, fertilizers and chemicals or through the farming practices they employ. Farmers likewise lack any knowledge of the environmental (GHG) effects of keeping livestock. Farmers are also not aware of the enormous potential that proper agricultural practices provide as a permanent sink for GHG.

     

    This proposal is to expand the interactive CD-ROM currently under development at the University of Saskatchewan to provide this information to farmers inexpensively, efficiently and within a short time frame.

  3. Background Information
    1. Agriculture and Greenhouse gas
    2. Stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system has been recognized as one of the issues facing human kind. Of the projected anthropogenic "greenhouse-effect" gases, agriculture accounts for about one-fifth, with agricultural activities (not including forest conversion) accounting for approximately 5% of anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and about 50 and 70% respectively of overall anthropogenic CH4 and N2O emissions.

       

      Approximately 32% of total global reductions could result from reduction in CO2 emissions. Furthermore, 42% of carbon offsets could be achieved by bio-fuel production on land currently under cultivation, 16% from reduced CH4 emissions and 10% from reduced emissions of N2O.

       

      Canada’s prairie soils, with 137 million acres of potential agricultural land, represents a large land area for enhancing Canada's carbon absorption capacity. It has been calculated that proper carbon sinks measures could, for example, increase the prairie soils carbon content 2.5 to 4 tonnes per hectare over a 12-year period representing the removal from the atmosphere of 138 to 221 million tonnes of carbon (Ag Canada.)

       

      Worldwide agricultural potential for reduction in anthropogenic GHG levels is set out in Table 1 below.

       

      Table 1: Agricultural technologies and potential reduction for mitigating GHG emissions (world)

      Net Carbon Dioxide Emissions

      Mt C/year or Mt C-Equivalent

      Reduction in fossil energy use in agriculture

      10 – 50

      Increasing soil C with better management of existing soils

      400 - 500

      Increasing soil C through permanent cover of surplus soil

      21 - 42

      Restoration of soil Carbon on degraded soil

      24 - 240

      Improved management of ruminant livestock

      69 - 256

      Improved management of livestock manure

      15 - 51

      Increased N fertilizer use efficiency

      85 - 245

      Source: IPCC

    3. Technical, economic, and market potential

The technical, economic, and market potential of measures to limit GHG include the following:

 

Technical Potential - The technical potential represents the amount by which it is possible to reduce GHG emissions or improve use efficiency by using a technology or practice in all applications in which it could technically be adopted, without consideration of its costs or practical feasibility.

 

Economic Potential - The economic potential represents the potential for GHG emissions reductions or energy efficiency improvements that could be achieved cost-effectively in the absence of market barriers. The achievement of the economic potential requires additional policies and measures to break down market barriers.

 

Market Potential - The market potential for GHG emissions reductions or energy efficiency represents the improvements that currently can be achieved under existing market conditions. This potential can be further subdivided into:

 

Specific actions by farmers that would work to maintain and increase the carbon content of agricultural soils include:

 

 

A number of the changes to farming practices, particularly reduced till operations, also decrease equipment usage and fuel consumption offering additional incentives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases while reducing expenses.

 

The "actions" mentioned above could all be related back to a management decision by a farmer as to how to best use the land, the equipment and the other variable factors of production under his/her care.

    1. Time constraints

Technologies and measures to reduce GHG are typically examined over three distinct time periods;

 

 

It is generally difficult to estimate the exact economic and market potential of different technologies and the effectiveness of different measures in achieving emission reduction objectives within these time periods.

Some technologies are currently available within the short-term time frame that provides for immediate utilization on farms. Some projects may also require minimal capital and/or equipment. Throughout the prairies, rates of adoption of GHG-friendly practices will vary since sequestration rate of carbon in prairie soils fluctuate widely due to the complex interactions of crops and crop rotations, soil characteristics, and climatic factors.

 

Ultimately, farmers will need to adopt new management techniques to, for example, reduce or eliminate tillage of agricultural land or to reduce fossil fuel use through adaptation of existing farming methods.

    1. Management Practices
    2. Changes in management practice and techniques require higher level of farming skills and information. No-till and conservation tillage systems also require more intensive management of the farm system to maintain the same level of production. In addition, practicing no-till and conservation tillage require different types of equipment compared to conventional tillage techniques. Use of more specialized equipment for application of fertilizers and herbicides will also be needed.

       

    3. Energy use

Energy use in agriculture is comprised of both direct and indirect sources. Direct energy is generally made up of gasoline, diesel, propane and natural gas which is used to power tractors, combines, dryers and to heat barns and other farm buildings. Indirect energy is generally embodied in the chemicals and fertilizers used in crop production.

Energy use on farms represents an important component of production costs. As an example, Table 2 below sets out the dollar value of Saskatchewan farm expenses which can, either directly or indirectly, be related to energy:

Table 2: Dollar value of energy related inputs: Saskatchewan 1996

Farm Operating Expenses

$ Amount

Heating

18,685,000

Fuel

501,853,000

Fertilizer

582,281,000

Pesticides

401,655,000

 

Source: Stats Canada

 

Tables 3 and 4 set out, in Petajoules, the agricultural sales of refined petroleum products and the amount of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizer nutrients sold in Canada, eastern Canada and western Canada in the period 1990 to 1996.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 3: Agricultural energy use (PJ) of refined petroleum products for the period 1990 to 1996. Business and personal uses combined.

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

All Petroleum

139.8

132.5

157.5

126.8

131.1

145.3

155.5

Gasoline

56.1

48.4

40.7

35.9

33.4

40.4

43.7

Diesel fuel

71.4

67.2

68.5

76.6

84.5

88.7

95.7

Light fuel oil

10.8

14.7

45.1

11.9

10.8

14.3

14

Source: Stats Canada

 

Table 4: Amounts (thousands of tonnes) of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizer nutrients sold in Canada, eastern Canada and western Canada in the period 1990 to 1996.

 

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

Eastern Canada:

Nitrogen

307.6

290.0

290.9

283.6

275.0

284.4

288.3

Phosphate

192.6

189.2

189.4

184.5

170.2

160.1

149.3

Potash

279.2

262.8

246.1

243.8

241.2

219.1

225.0

Western Canada

Nitrogen

888.7

867.8

962.4

1022.2

1131.0

1164.0

1287.9

Phosphate

420.9

389.0

402.8

431.4

471.0

468.3

509.1

Potash

80.6

75.1

64.1

84.0

86.8

90.8

108.2

Canada

Nitrogen

1196.3

1405.9

1448.4

1576.2

1157.8

1253.3

1305.8

Phosphate

613.6

578.2

592.2

615.9

641.2

628.5

658.4

Potash

359.8

337.9

310.2

327.6

328.0

309.9

333.3

 

Farms generally vary a great deal in the efficiency of energy use suggesting that there exist a whole range of technologies in use. Over the last decade there has also been an important movement by farmers towards using different cropping systems as can be seen from Table 5 below. These changes have had a profound effect on GHG emissions

Table 5: Changes in tillage practices on Saskatchewan farms between 1991 and 1996.

Crop or fallow and tillage

system

Percent of total land in fallow or crop

Summerfallow

1991

1996

Chemical fallow (no till)

4.1

8.7

Tillage only

56.8

57.4

Tillage and chemicals

39.1

33.9

Cropped

Several tillage passes

63.9

51.4

Till just before seeding

25.7

30.2

No till before seeding

10.4

18.4

Source: Stats Canada

 

  1. CAEEDAC

The Canadian Agricultural Energy End-Use Data and Analysis Centre (CAEEDAC) was established in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Saskatchewan in May 1994. The Centre’s primary purpose is aimed at expanding and improving the existing knowledge about energy consumption and efficiency in agriculture.

 

CAEEDAC is part of a network of Energy End-Use Data and Analysis centres across Canada. Other centres are currently established at:

 

    1. Self-Assesment of Farm Energy Use
    2. CAEEDAC'S research team is in the process of developing an interactive CD-ROM that will enable Canadian agricultural producers to input their energy use and operations data (tractor use, yields, tilling operations etc.) and to make comparisons with benchmark use profiles. The current objective of this project is to create an educational tool that will allow producers to determine the energy efficiency of their operation. The format of the questionnaire will enable farmers to use the information to identify areas where improvements in energy use and general farming operations are most needed. To the extent that overall costs are reduced, this should make farms more economically viable.

       

      The possibility of including much supplementary information relevant to the producers exists. Extensive comparisons performed at the provincial and regional and local levels could be accomplished, including information such as fertilizer usage and land management practices. Users of the CD-ROM would be able to consider the effect of different management options well beyond changes in energy efficiency. This would then allow the user to determine which overall farming practice would be economically and environmentally efficient for their operation.

       

       

       

       

       

      To fulfill its objective a focus group of experts has been organized. The focus group and various producers have showed a strong interest in providing an expanded format on the CD-ROM. The focus group comprises individuals from agricultural economics, the soil, crop and environmental sciences and from the College of Commerce at the University of Saskatchewan.

       

      A large amount of data has already been collected from the Farm Energy Survey undertaken by Statistics Canada in 1997 and from the 1991 and 1996 Census of Agriculture.

       

      A programmer who has had previous experience in setting up this interactive program (for example the Freight Rate Manager for Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food and the Agricultural Information for Saskatchewan Farmers CD-ROM) has been hired to set up the program. The program is interactive, graphical and user-friendly in nature. It is proposed to have the program available on both CD-ROM format and though direct downloading via the CAEEDAC home page on the Internet at the following address:

      http://www.usask.ca/agriculture/caedac/main/tpage.html.

       

    3. Adding a GHG Component to the CD-ROM

It would be relatively easy to add a GHG component to the program mentioned above. Energy and carbon studies would need to be reviewed and a set of the following coefficients would need to be ascertained. These could then easily be incorporated into the program:

 

 

 

 

    1. Work and Action Plan
    2. 1. Review literature June 1998

       

      2. Develop coefficients Table July 1998

       

      3. Incorporate into program August – September 1998

       

      4. Test October 1998

       

      5. Publish and disseminate program November 1998

       

    3. Project Team

The project team will be made up of the following:

Simon , Samson Diarra, Denise Schmidt, Rhonda Liedenbach, Ira, Amalia, Cynthia Edwards, Michael Rosetti.

    1. Budget

University personnel $10,000

Stats Canada special runs $10,000

Marketing $15,000

Overhead $5,000

Total $40,000