Report: 'Water and Agriculture in Canada: Towards Sustainable Management of Water Resources'

Feb 26, 2013

Canadian agriculture is faced with great opportunities, but also challenged by water-related risks and uncertainties. An expert panel convened by the Council of Canadian Academies has found that water and land resources in Canada can be more sustainably managed by developing forward-thinking policies and effective land and water management strategies, adopting effective governance mechanisms, and harnessing technological advancements.

The agricultural sector is an important contributor to Canada's prosperity and well-being. In 2011, primary agriculture alone produced $51.1 billion in gross farm receipts. It also plays a vital role in the food sector which is linked to nearly $100 billion per year in economic activity and approximately 1 in 7.5 Canadian jobs. As the world's population grows, so does the demand for food. Rising incomes are causing a shift in global patterns of towards higher-value forms of agricultural production. There is also increased demand for non-food agricultural products such as biofuels and natural fibres.

Dr. Howard Wheater, chair of the Council's noted, "Agriculture and water provide us with our most basic needs, and are intimately connected. While most farmers are their own , using rain and snow for crop production, irrigation and are major water consumers and face increasing competition from other water uses. Agriculture has changed much of our land area and can affect the water environment in many ways. It also faces major challenges due to the uncertain impact of , including floods and droughts, and climate change." He added, "Our expert panel explored these issues in great detail and our report lays out five practical areas where additional science and action can contribute to better sustainable management of water in agriculture."

Additional science is needed regarding:

  • the risks and uncertainties of market conditions, competition for land and water resources, and
  • improved monitoring, modelling and forecasting to facilitate adaptive management
  • the interaction between land management and water resources – including assessment of beneficial management practices (BMPs), conservation agriculture, and ecosystem services approaches
  • promising farm-scale technologies that could contribute to efficient water use, reduced environmental impacts, and sound investment decisions
  • governance structures, valuation techniques, economic incentives, and knowledge transfer strategies that would help to facilitate better management decisions and uptake of sustainable practices
"Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada asked the Council to conduct this in-depth assessment and I am confident that the Panel's work has been comprehensive and the evidence provided within this report will be of significant value and insight for policy- and decision-makers, stakeholders and the wider research community," said Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies.

Explore further: Food shortages could be most critical world issue by mid-century

More information: For more information, or to download a free copy of the report, please visit www.scienceadvice.ca

Provided by Council of Canadian Academies

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UN warns 25 pct of world land highly degraded

Nov 28, 2011

(AP) -- The United Nations has completed the first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet's land resources, finding in a report Monday that a quarter of all land is highly degraded and warning the trend must be ...

Recommended for you

More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows

14 hours ago

Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.