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Farmers Can Achieve Partial Reduction in Fertilizer Emissions: Report

A new industry report shows greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fertilizer applications can be reduced without negatively impacting food production and farmer returns - just not at the level proposed by the federal government. 

Released Wednesday, the report commissioned by Fertilizer Canada and the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) suggests a 14% reduction in GHG emissions is possible by 2030, compared to the 30% cut sought by Ottawa. 

“We support the federal government’s strong push to reduce Canada’s GHG emissions, but we cannot sacrifice food productivity,” Karen Proud, President and CEO, Fertilizer Canada, said in a release. “The approach to 2030 must be realistic, balance agricultural emission reductions with food production, and remain voluntary.” 

The report said the 14% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 can be achieved through the adoption of “aggressive, but attainable” levels of 4R best management practices (BMPs). 4R BMPs (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place) help producers optimize fertilizer to reduce environmental impacts while maximizing economic outcomes. 

The 30% target for fertilizer emissions reduction is part of the federal government's overall climate change plan. It recently wrapped up a consultation process on the proposal, which Ottawa calls a voluntary target, not a mandatory target. 

The report looked at three scenarios for major Canadian cropping systems across Canada and considered a path forward to 2030 based on broader implementation of 4R practices. The study looked at the impact of 4R BMPs on GHG emissions and the economic impact to growers. 

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