Citizens globally and governments expect agricultural producers to grow more food per acre of arable land and do so while preserving soil and water health, air quality, and biodiversity. This is what ‘sustainability’ has come to mean.
The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is guided by Keep It Coming 2025 (keepitcoming.ca), the strategic plan for the industry that pledges sustainable, reliable canola supply. The canola industry’s sustainability goals (see Canola’s Sustainable Future) are intended to align with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (un.org/sustainabledevelopment), which have become part of the language of sustainable food production for countries and companies around the world. These goals also align with Canadian Field Print (fieldprint.ca) and Canadian Round Table for Sustainable Crops (sustainablecrops.ca) sustainability platforms. The canola industry will continue to work with various partners including environmental conservation organizations and levels of government in order to achieve its goals.
By first aligning and then implementing our sustainability goals and metrics, the Canadian canola industry demonstrates to customers a commitment to sustainable, reliable supply through continuous improvement of production practices.
A key sustainability objective is to increase the national average canola yield to 52 bu./ac. per acre. Why 52? Because the predicted global demand for Canadian canola is 26 million tonnes by 2025 and in order to meet that demand on the same number of acres, we need yields of 52 bu./ac. In achieving this goal, Canada will reduce energy use per tonne of canola produced, increase carbon sequestration and increase land efficiency.
Effective actions within each pillar
The sustainability objectives are built around the five pillars of Keep It Coming 2025, listed below. Steady advancement within these five pillars will support our sustainability goals while increasing yields and profitability at reduced production risk.
- Pillar 1: Plant Establishment – A healthy, uniform stand established early and with minimum tillage will increase land efficiency and carbon sequestration and reduce energy use.
- Pillar 2: Fertility Management – Adoption of 4R Nutrient Management guidelines along with precision agriculture and data management will target crop nutrition applications to the plant at rates and timing required and use forms that will reduce loss to the air and water.
- Pillar 3: Integrated Pest Management – Better scouting methods, updated insect thresholds that incorporate the contribution of natural enemies, and valuation of the economic benefit of natural habitat will increase profitability, biodiversity, carbon sequestration and land efficiency.
- Pillar 4: Harvest Management – Genetics and management practices to promote later swathing or straight cutting, reduce harvest losses and lower storage risks will increase the amount of canola that gets to market, thereby reducing fuel and land use per tonne of crop.
- Pillar 5: Genetic Improvement – Public and private canola breeders will develop traits for improved water and nutrient use efficiency, higher yields, greater stress tolerance and protection against current and emerging pest threats.
The industry’s investment in research is at the core of these tools and techniques to enhance economic and environmental sustainability of canola production in Canada. The 2018 Canola Digest Science Edition is just one way to demonstrate the strong collaborative network involved and to improve knowledge transfer throughout the entire value chain.