Sustainable Farming, Climate Change, and Innovation

Farming sustainably with a technology tool box

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As the climate changes, farming is becoming more challenging. Increasingly, farmers are turning to technology and innovation to help them adapt to ever-more sustainable and resilient food production:

• New and faster plant breeding methods are leading to crops that are better able to resist pests, drought, heat, excess moisture, and frost.
• Smart irrigation systems only water crops when the plants are thirsty, reducing water use, and resulting in stronger, more quickly growing plants.
• Smart imaging technology on sprayers can differentiate between crop plants and weeds, and applies pesticide only on the weeds instead of the entire field. This method can reduce pesticide use up to 90 per cent!
• Farmers are using drones and robots to help identify pest or disease problems in the field, or to monitor livestock.

Running farm equipment from space

Many Canadian farmers rely on precision agriculture technology to manage field work like planting, applying nutrients, spraying, and harvesting. Satellite-controlled GPS on tractors and equipment ensures that fertilizers and sprays are applied in the right amounts to the right places, and that crops are planted in straight, even rows. This precision reduces fuel consumption, and makes sure that nutrients, seeds and crop protection products aren’t wasted.

Greener energy on the farm

Farmers are always looking for new ways to heat their barns and greenhouses, both affordably and sustainably. They’re installing solar panels and wind turbines to generate electricity — even anaerobic digesters that make methane as a fuel source generate for their own farms and homes; others sell it back to the grid in order to power homes, businesses, and industry, in urban areas. Ethanol is a clean, renewable fuel made from plants (mostly corn) that is blended into gasoline. Biofuel is a diesel fuel substitute made from canola or soybean oil, and blended with normal diesel. According to the 2021 Census of Agriculture, more than twice as many farms report that they’re producing renewable energy production, as compared to the last census. Solar energy remains the number one source of renewable energy produced on-farm, having increased by 66.5 per cent from 2016 to 2021.