• Angela Mouly

CVR Farmers Well On Their Way To Reducing Fertilizer Emissions


In 2020, the federal government issued a target to reduce fertilizer emissions by 30 per cent in the next decade. County of Vermilion River’s Director of Agriculture and Environment, Cathie Erichsen Arychuk, said the target has created a lot of push back from industry and businesses surrounding its intention, not necessarily the number.

“It’s a numerical target without any attached details on how this will be met. The biggest thing is that the government is still consulting with the people it will impact,” said Erichsen-Arychuk. “Farmers would like to be recognized for the ongoing work they have already done. There is always room to improve, but fertilizer efficiency has been going on because as prices go up you use it more effectively and our farmers have been doing that very, very well.”

According to fertilizercanada.ca, Canadian farmers are world leaders in food production and environmental sustainability while the fertilizer industry supports over 76,000 jobs directly and indirectly throughout the supply chain. They state that Canada’s fertilizer industry contributes nearly $13 billion to Canada’s GDP, and in 2019 Canada exported approximately $7.2 billion in fertilizer. Their concern with production going down is that they may not be able to meet international export demands, and one of their reports notes a potential loss of $48 Billion to farm incomes.

“The majority of what we do (in the County of Vermilion River) is export food products. The Ag industry not only provides a consistent and known food source for the people but contributes a large amount of the GDP for Alberta and Canada,” said Erichsen-Arychuk.

She said there will be a different impact in eastern vs. western Canada. Provincially the scale will be largest in Saskatchewan followed by Alberta, where based on the growing conditions and types of crops they grow, the per acre amount will likely be higher in eastern Canada.

Fertilizer contains the vitamins and minerals (or nutrition) that plants or food crops need to grow, to be productive or produce a crop.

“Certainly no farmer is using more fertilizer than they have to because it is expensive, but if you give anything less food than it needs, it doesn’t grow as well,” said Erichsen-Arychuk.

With multiple local fertilizer retailers, she said the target doesn’t necessarily mean a loss in sales. Throughout the county, she said people have been doing fertilizer management for many years and are well on their way to meeting the government’s goal.

“We’ve come a long way in reducing emissions. A lot of farms have already adjusted how they do things. Reducing emissions could simply mean using a different type, the way they apply it or when. Losses are significantly reduced by injecting fertilizer in the soil versus by applying it all across the top because it is not in contact with the atmosphere. Now the vast majority of fertilizer is applied in the spring (at the time of seeding) as opposed to the fall when it was convenient and easy (but you had to hope it stayed all year),” said Erichsen-Arychuk.

Farmers or industry people can get involved, ask questions and share concerns or input on practices that may have worked well for them to reduce emissions, by visiting https://agriculture.canada.ca/en/about-our-department/transparency-and-corporate-reporting/public-opinion-research-and-consultations/share-ideas-fertilizer-emissions-reduction-target. The discussion page will remain open until August 31.

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