Mitigation Activities in Agriculture

Management practices can be employed in all agricultural sectors that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increase soil carbon sequestration in land, and contribute biomass feed stocks for energy use (IPCC, 2007). As well, water conservation and adjustments to planting and harvesting dates could address losses associated with moisture limitations in the future (Warren et al., 2004).
Through implementation of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs), several mitigation strategies are already in place or under review (list adapted from Beyond Kyoto, 2008):
·         More efficient use of commercial nitrogen (N) fertilizers: this can be achieved through adjustment of application rates, application methods, time of application, use of inhibitors, new proposed technologies, etc.
·         Expanded soil survey providing landscape information required for sound management decisions.
·         Anaerobic digesters to capture methane (CH4) from manures to produce on-farm energy.
·         Composting manure to produce fewer GHG emissions than when it is stockpiled.
·         Biofuels to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and decrease CO2 emissions.
·         Livestock feeding and grazing strategies to improve feed efficiency and reduce enteric CH4 emissions.
·         Improved handling and storage of manure, such as composting and utilizing manure storage covers.
·         Reduction of tillage practices to prevent soil erosion, conserve soil moisture, reduce fossil fuel use and regain lost soil carbon.
·         Controlled stubble burning to prevent the release of carbon from crop residues into the atmosphere.
·         Increased use of perennial forages and legumes in crop rotations to generate N in the soil and reduce N2O emissions from subsequent N fertilizer use, and to build soil carbon.
·         Land management practices for carbon sequestration: wetland restoration, permanent cover, afforestation, riparian area improvement, etc.
·         Organic farming
Manitoba has supported several incentive programs within the last five years that provide resources with regard to climate change and GHGs in agriculture. These programs and projects highlight the issues and possible solutions to reduce risks and increase opportunities associated with climate change. Past programs such as the Canada-Manitoba Farm Stewardship Program, Covering New Ground, the Manitoba Sustainable Agriculture Practices Program (MSAPP), the Environmental Farm Action Program (EFAP) and the Riparian Tax Credit are a few examples of the contribution of Manitoba’s government toward finding solutions. A number of ongoing and new actions will help to reduce overall emissions from the agriculture sector.
The Environmental Farm Plan process continues to enable farmers to assess environmental risks on their operations and make improvements. The development of a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) tool began under MSAPP. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development will be applying LCA to the agriculture industry starting with grain and oilseed production in the cropping sector, followed by the forage and livestock sectors in Manitoba. The goal of the project is to develop an LCA model that can be used to evaluate how practices contribute to various environmental outcomes in agricultural sectors and that can be applied to different areas (e.g., eco-regions or soil zones of agro-Manitoba). This will provide a valuable tool to direct programs and policies geared toward sustainable development priorities for Agro-Manitoba.