USask researchers says Saskatchewan farmers produce some of the world’s most sustainable crops

Saskatchewan farmers are producing some of the least carbon-intensive crops in Canada and the world, according to a carbon life cycle analysis commissioned by the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan.

“These impressive results are driven by the widespread adoption in Saskatchewan of agricultural innovations and sustainable farming practices that have significantly reduced the amount of inputs and emissions needed to farm each acre of land,” GIFS Chief Executive Officer Dr. Steve Webb (PhD) said in a press release. “The sustainable practices include reduced tillage, the adoption of herbicide-tolerant canola, the variable-rate application of fertilizer, a robust crop rotation system, and the production of nitrogen-fixing pulse crops.”

The two-part study commissioned in 2022 examined the carbon footprint from the production of five Canadian field crops – canola, non-durum wheat, field peas, durum wheat, and lentils. It compared these footprints, including their supply chain emissions, to other countries that export the same products, including Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

The study, conducted in partnership with the Food Systems PRISM Lab in the University of British Columbia, followed protocol for measuring the carbon life cycle of agricultural production. It compiled and reviewed data on the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for crop production, including transportation, seed, fertilizer and manure inputs, crop inputs, field activities, energy emissions, and post-harvest work.

The results demonstrate that Canadian producers, particularly in Saskatchewan and Western Canada, are producing crops with the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide equivalents.

 “U of S has empowered Saskatchewan researchers and ag producers for over 100 years through new science, technology, and policies that sustainably feed the world. We are very pleased with the results of this study, and I know our faculty, students, and researchers will continue to lead and create innovative solutions for the environmental and agricultural challenges the future will bring,” Baljit Singh, vice-president, research, at USask said in a press release.

USask founded as an agricultural university. In a press release, the university said it has long been dedicated to developing crops, processes, and education to strengthen the province’s agriculture and food sectors.