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Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program


Irrigation and drainage are necessary in Eastern Canada, where supplemental irrigation and artificial subsurface drainage is required for the production of high value horticultural crops. Given that water scarcity is likely to increase due to a changing climate and competing needs for water from other sectors, irrigation water may be less readily available in the future. This presents serious economic risks to agricultural producers, and environmental risks to habitats and ecosystems. Effective and fundamental change in current agricultural practices, particularly water management, is needed to protect livelihoods and ecosystems.

This project, led by Dr. Chandra A. Madramootoo, addresses the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency priority of the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It aims to investigate the effects of different water management systems in Eastern Canada on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

The principal objective is to ascertain the effects of different irrigation and drainage practices on N2O, CO2 and CH4 emissions, and C sequestration, on both mineral and organic soils.  GHG emissions data will be collected from study sites in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. Sites will comprise combinations of surface drainage, subsurface drainage, and sprinkler, surface drip, and subsurface drip irrigation and subirrigation. Based on the information obtained, and in conjunction with agricultural producers, producers’ organizations, and federal and provincial stakeholders, GHG mitigative strategies will be developed to increase water use efficiency, and enhance the profitability of Canadian farmers.

There are strong networking and capacity building components in order to disseminate the results of the project provincially, regionally, nationally and internationally. A multidisciplinary and collaborative approach will establish links between a diverse range of stakeholders, and build a world-class research and technology transfer network.

Objectives of the Project

This project will develop knowledge, technologies and Best Management Practices (BMPs) to mitigate the impacts of GHG in Canada generated by different agricultural and water management practices on both mineral and organic soils. Specific objectives of this project are:

  • Conduct scientific research and measure, quantify, and validate the cause and effect relationships between irrigation, water table management, drainage and agronomic practices on GHG (N2O, CH4, and CO2) emissions, and carbon sequestration;
  • Investigate cost-effectiveness and benefits of new technologies for mitigating GHG emissions and improving water use efficiency under different water management systems;
  • Investigate benefits and costs of adopting selected BMPs at the farm level using whole farm analysis;
  • Develop and implement cost-effective technologies and BMPs through technology transfer vehicles to help Canadian crop producers mitigate GHGs, improve water use efficiency, reduce agricultural inputs, and improve economic returns;
  • Develop and test regional models of agricultural GHG emissions to compare and evaluate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the different technologies and BMPs developed and to provide policy decision-support tools for decision-makers to encourage the implementation of profitable and sustainable GHG mitigation practices;
  • Strengthen local, national and international networking channels to enhance partnerships, develop new relationships with agricultural producers and stakeholders, and to promote information sharing and dissemination of the technologies and BMPs developed; and
  • Build Canadian professional capacity in GHG mitigation strategies for water use efficiency, and enhance Canadian contributions to the GRA.

About the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program

The AGGP represents Canada's initial contribution to the Global Research Alliance, an international network of more than 30 member-countries that will coordinate and increase agricultural research on greenhouse gas mitigation and make new mitigation technologies and beneficial management practices available to farmers. For more information on the Global Research Alliance, visit www.globalresearchalliance.org/

Contact Information

For more information, please contact Eduardo Ganem Cuenca by eduardo [dot] ganemcuenca [at] mcgill [dot] ca (email) or by phone: (514) 398-8779.