The 1997 Kyoto Protocol calls for a reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG)
emissions over 15 years to a level 6% below the GHG emissions in 1990.
In response to the signing of The Kyoto Protocol, the Government of
Canada created a Climate Change Secretariat which developed a process to
assess climate change mitigation options, and initiated the Action Plan
2000 on Climate Change (AP-2000).
Under this plan, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada allocated $21 million to
the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program for Canadian Agriculture. It will be
the program's responsibility to address agricultural GHG emission
and carbon sequestration enhancement in the areas of soil, nutrient and livestock management.
The GHG Mitigation Program involves identifying management practices
that reduce GHG emissions or increase carbon sequestration and raising awareness,
as well as demonstrating, to producers, these practices for soil, nutrient and livestock
management. As one component of the Program, impacts on GHG reduction will be measured
by scientists for specific practices
and results will be reviewed to improve existing management practices.
Management Practices which reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the areas of fertilizer formulation and application, livestock
feeding and manure handling, and soil management (including enhanced carbon sequestration)
will be addressed. Carbon sequestration occurs when plants utilize CO2
from the air during photosynthesis, and this carbon is subsequently stored
stored in the plant roots and the soil which acts as a carbon "sink". Management practices, such as low-till agriculture,
result in more of the
carbon captured by plants being sequestered in the soil.
The CCA has agreed to administer the “Awareness, Communication and
Demonstration” component of the GHG Mitigation Program for the
participating national livestock groups. For the beef sector, this entails
coordinating events across Canada which demonstrate and communicate the
use of good management practices which reduce or remove atmospheric
greenhouse gas. In general, many of the good management practices
producers can implement to increase the production efficiency of their
beef operations will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions per pound of
beef produced. Implementing these practices results in a win-win scenario
as the profitability of the business can be improved and, at the same
time, the environment can be protected by decreasing the intensity of
greenhouse gas emissions.
Some management areas to be addressed which will be of interest to beef
producers, and which hold good potential for greenhouse gas mitigation
- Grazing Management Strategies which increase the quantity and
quality of forages on pastures and native rangelands. An increase in the
quantity of forage produced can increase the amount of carbon
sequestered in soils, while increases in the quality of forage can
result in reduced methane emissions from the cow’s rumen, the biggest
source of greenhouse gas emissions from the beef industry.
- Feeding Management Strategies which are intended to increase the
efficiency of feed utilization by the beef herd. Methane emissions from
the rumen represent a loss of energy from the feedstock. Although these
emissions cannot be eliminated, they can be reduced, potentially
resulting in feed cost savings to producers as well. The processing of
feeds, and the addition of certain feed additives, including edible
oils, will be demonstrated.
- Manure Management Strategies, which serve to preserve the nutrient
content of manure, also can result in decreased greenhouse gas emissions
in the form of methane and nitrous oxide.
- Production Efficiency Practices currently available to beef
producers can often result in a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions per
pound of beef produced. Such practical measures as testing feeds and
balancing rations, implementing proper herd health and fertility
programs, and avoiding the over-application and loss of valuable
nutrients in manure are practices beef producers can adopt to ensure
greenhouse gas emissions from the beef industry are minimized.
For More Information
To find out more about the Beef Component of the GHG Mitigation Program,
and to investigate the opportunities for demonstration and communication
project funding, please contact the Beef Project Coordinator, Patricia
Walker at 403-601-8991 or email
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