Canada joins fertilizer efficiency consortium as founding member

Brandon Sun file photo. Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced at the end of last month that Canada has become a founding member of the Efficient Fertilizer Consortium, a public-private group that exists to fund research that could lead to more efficient fertilizer products that are easier on the environment.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

The Government of Canada is now a founding member of the Efficient Fertilizer Consortium, a public-private group that exists to fund research that could lead to more efficient fertilizer products that are easier on the environment.

To become a founding member, the federal government has committed $1.3 million over four years to the program, which was created by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research.

Being a founding member of the consortium puts Canada and its producers in an ideal position to take on a leadership role and benefit from access to cutting-edge research on fertilizer efficiency, Francis Chechile, the press secretary of federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay told the Sun earlier this month.

That access is vitally important to the long-term success of Canada’s agricultural industry, contributing to a more sustainable food system and producers’ bottom lines, Chechile said.

“By putting this fertilizer efficiency research into action, producers can improve crop yields through better nutrient management and soil health, save on input expenses and energy costs through more precise application, reduce environmental impacts and improve risk management against climate impacts,” Chechile said.

Canada has joined 11 other members of the consortium, including the United States, the United Kingdom, other international governments, fertilizer companies, crop groups and foundations, a press release sent out by the federal government on Jan. 31 said.

By joining the consortium, Canada is helping ensure that its farmers are well equipped to make informed decisions that are good for the environment and their bottom line, MacAulay said in the release.

“International collaboration is vitally important to addressing global food security and putting healthy and affordable food on tables right across Canada,” he said.

Although there are a number of innovative fertilizer products already on the market, the federal government says more research is needed to understand how they will affect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and what their impact on crop yield would be in various climates, soil types and management practices. Through the consortium, Canada will partner with international scientists and agriculture stakeholders to take part in this research. The research being funded will generate data and evidence on how exactly fertilizers perform regarding crop output and GHG emissions and other environmental impacts.

Another reason the government of Canada joined the consortium is to meet its commitment to reduce GHG emissions that result from fertilizer use across the country by 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 203o. Previously, Canada committed over $1.5 billion to bolster the agriculture industry’s emissions reduction goals.

Angela Records is the chief scientific officer with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization that builds public private partnerships that support innovative science that tackles challenges in the food and agricultural sector.

Records said her organization is thrilled that the Government of Canada is now a member of the consortium.

“We are looking forward to working together to guide the strategic direction of this consortium and fund critical research to advance enhanced fertilizer efficiency,” she said.

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change website says that average temperatures across the country are rising at twice the global average, and three times in the northern regions of the country. To deal with this, the government set a goal of reducing its emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and to net-zero by 2050.

To meet these goals, the government invested $470 million into the Agricultural Climate Solutions On-Farm Climate Action Fund to support farmers in switching to more sustainable practices such as the use of cover crops, rotational grazing and fertilizer management.

Canada also invested $330 million in funding for the Agricultural Clean Technology Program, which aims to support the development and help farmers in the purchase of more energy-efficient equipment.

Another $100 million has been invested into the science sector for fundamental and applied research, knowledge transfer and metrics development.