The Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, provided an update today at the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture’s annual general meeting on a collaborative research project to support Newfoundland and Labrador farmers in applying sustainable agriculture practices in cool-climate, boreal ecosystems.
The Provincial Government is collaborating with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, along with Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd., on a two-year, $1.3-million project to help maximize Newfoundland and Labrador’s cool-climate growing conditions, while protecting the environment, increasing agriculture production and utilizing the by-products of other natural resource industries. Project details are provided in the backgrounder below.
The project is funded under the $25-million, three-year (2018-21), federal Agricultural Clean Technology Program, and will receive a federal investment of $557,509 from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and a $773,376-provincial commitment provided by the departments of Fisheries and Land Resources, and Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, along with investments from Memorial University and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.
The project supports commitments outlined in The Way Forward to expand agricultural production, ensure environmental and social sustainability, and prioritize food security and sufficiency. It will also meet provincial commitments through the Agriculture Sector Work Plan to collaborate with farmers in advancing northern agriculture research, and the Aquaculture Sector Work Plan to conduct research that advances opportunities to fully utilize materials in the provincial aquaculture industry. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Climate Change Action Plan also focuses on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and forestry operations, enhance carbon sequestration, and provide supports to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change.
“Newfoundland and Labrador’s cool climate and boreal ecosystem certainly pose challenges for our agriculture sector – but they also offer an excellent opportunity to build on our unique knowledge and strengths. Working with our partners, we are identifying and adapting Newfoundland and Labrador-specific research and development solutions that address our unique growing conditions, help us understand crop varieties and how they adapt, and employ management practices that make best use of the province’s arable land base. We look forward to reaping the benefits of this research for the province’s agricultural sector, and sharing our findings and practices with other cool-climate boreal growing regions.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources
“We are pleased to be a part of this collaborative research project in support of sustainable agriculture practices. The demand for clean technology and expertise is growing around the world, and here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have a growing number of companies on the cutting edge of developing clean solutions.”
Honourable Bernard Davis
Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
“Our Government launched the Clean Technology Program to partner on projects just like this. The province’s unique growing conditions present potential opportunities to diversify into new forms of agriculture, and today’s announcement will help achieve more sustainable, climate-specific production.”
Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“This investment in our students and research comes at a pivotal time for Grenfell Campus. We are increasingly involved in collaborations with our surrounding communities and industries; this support, as well as that of the Federal and Provincial Governments, shows great insight into the importance of creating synergies between local sectors and environmental sustainability through better use of local byproducts. Under the supervision of our expert faculty, these graduate students now have an opportunity to answer specific community and industry needs and real life problems through their research projects.”
Associate Vice-President (Grenfell Campus) Research and Graduate Studies
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The Way Forward on Agriculture
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Grenfell Campus, Memorial University
As the climate warms, northern boreal regions are expected to become more important for agricultural production. This ecozone covers 35 per cent of Canada’s total land area – including Newfoundland and Labrador. Agricultural activities currently contribute 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Project goals for “Low-Input Agriculture in Cool Climate Boreal Ecosystems” include:
- Determining the effects of various crop management systems on soil health, crop yield and quality;
- Reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural production;
- Investigating the effects of natural resource by-products – for example, waste generated from the forestry and aquaculture sectors – on soil health, crop yield and quality; and
- Investigating methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, forestry, and other resource-based industries.
Eight graduate students from Grenfell Campus, Memorial University are working with researchers and scientists from Fisheries and Land Resources, Natural Resources Canada, and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. on three focus areas with projects relevant to agriculture in Newfoundland and Labrador, including:
- Evaluating the effects of crop rotation and nitrogen fertilizer additives in an effort to:
- reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirements;
- reduce losses due to leaching and greenhouse gas emissions;
- improve soil health, and
- ensure agricultural growth by adopting sustainable practices;
- Determining the suitability and potential use of natural resource waste in agriculture, including paper mill waste and fish sludge; and
- Demonstrating and communicating the benefits of improved management practices to increase awareness and adoption of practices.