Agriculture and the Greenhouse GasesAuthor(s): Henry Janzen
Summary: The atmosphere is changing, notably from emissions of greenhouse gases – CO2, CH4, and N2O – released from human activity worldwide. With rising concentrations of these gases come fears of abruptly-altered climate, prompting demands to reduce emissions. Canadian farmers are closely linked to this effort; not only can they aim to reduce their own emissions, but they can sometimes also remove CO2 from air by building soil carbon. Far-sighted responses to this issue may be best envisioned through conversation among farmers, scientists, policymakers, and public citizens.
Citation: Janzen, H.H. 2008. Agriculture and the Greenhouse Gases. Prairie Soils and Crops 1:5-10. [http://www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca]
Nitrous Oxide Emissions and Prairie AgricultureAuthor(s): Reynald Lemke and Rich Farrell
Summary: There’s nothing funny about laughing gas when it comes to global warming. Nitrous Oxide (N2O), best known as laughing gas, a colourless, odourless gas sometimes used as an anaesthetic by dentists, is also a powerful greenhouse gas. While carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main human-generated greenhouse gas, N2O is approximately 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Farm activity, especially emissions from agricultural soils, is by far the largest source of human-induced N2O emissions.
Citation: Lemke, R. and Farrell, R. 2008. Nitrous Oxide Emissions and Prairie Agriculture. Prairie Soils and Crops 1:11-15. [http://www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca]
Reducing Methane in Dairy and Beef Cattle Operations: What is Feasible?Author(s): Karen A. Beauchemin and Sean M. McGinn
Summary: About 3 to 12% of the energy consumed by ruminants (cattle and sheep) is converted to methane in the rumen (referred to as enteric methane) and released into the atmosphere. Adopting feeding strategies that will minimize the amount of energy, lost as methane, can improve feed conversion efficiency, improve animal productivity, and is good for the environment. Producers can reduce their herd’s methane production between 5 - 25% by making changes in their management practices and diet but these changes in management and diet add to the cost of producing meat and milk.
Citation: Beauchemin, K. and McGinn, S. 2008. Reducing Methane in Dairy and beef Cattle Operations: What is feasible? Prairie Soils and Crops 1:16-20. [http://www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca]
Organic Matter in Prairie SoilsAuthor(s): Darwin Anderson
Summary: A soil’s organic matter (OM) is the product of life in and on the soil, and a supporter of the living components - the plants, microorganisms and animals. It contains a reserve store of nutrients that is released gradually to plants and microorganisms, and is an especially important repository for nitrogen, a nutrient that is not usually present in soil minerals. OM improves soil structure, making it easier for soils to accept and store water, and making soils more resistant to erosion.
Citation: Anderson, D. 2008. Organic Matter in Prairie Soils. Prairie Soils and Crops 1:21-26. [http://www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca]
Decoding Your Fuel Bill: What is Your Farm's Real Energy Bill?Author(s): Elwin G. Smith et. al.
Summary: Prairie farmers, like all Canadians, are becoming very conscious of the high cost of energy. Agriculture on the Canadian prairies is very dependent on fossil fuel energy. With diesel fuel priced at more then a dollar a litre, and fertilizer at record highs, we decided it was time to take a closer look at prairie agriculture’s total energy bill. Our results might surprise you.
Citation: Smith, E.G., Zentner, R.P., Nagy, C.N., Khakbazan, M. and Lafond, G.P. 2008. Decoding Your Fuel Bill: What is Your Farm's Real Energy Bill? Prairie Soils and Crops 1:27-31. [http://www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca]
Agriculture as a Source of Energy: Is it Sustainable?Author(s): Lynette Keyowski and Murray Fulton
Summary: Agricultural products have traditionally been used for food, feed and fibre. In the last decade, however, commodities like corn, soybeans, canola and sugarcane are increasingly being diverted into the production of energy for transportation, electricity and heating. The shift of agricultural products to fuel production is being felt in global food and feed markets. Countries are turning to biofuels for a variety of reasons. Energy security issues, climate change concerns, and a desire for economic activity in rural economies all play a role.
Citation: Keyowski, L. and Fulton, M. 2008. Agriculture as a Source of Energy. Prairie Soils and Crops 1:32-38. [http://www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca]
Can Canadians Trust Their Food Supply?Author(s): Carol Ann Patterson and Erin Hiebert
Summary: Safe food – Canada is ranked 5th in the world for its food safety systems. Strong legislation, food product innovation and food safety programs from farm to fork are continuously evolving to provide safe food to consumers. Even so, food borne illnesses and food scares still occur. Why does this happen and how do the players in the food chain manage the risks that could lead to food borne illness? Is food safer today that it was 100 or even 50 years ago?
Citation: Patterson, C.A. and Hiebert, E. 2008. Can Canadians Trust Their Food Supply. Prairie Soils and Crops 1:39-44. [http://www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca]