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Environmental Sustainability of Canadian Agriculture: Agri-Environmental Indicator Report Series – Report #2

Lefebvre, A. et Eilers, W. et Chunn, B. (2005). Environmental Sustainability of Canadian Agriculture: Agri-Environmental Indicator Report Series – Report #2. [Rapport – bilan]


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The AEIs included in this report focus on four key components of the environmental sustainability of primary agriculture: soil quality, water quality, air quality and biodiversity. The results reveal some consistent national trends, as well as considerable differences in various agrienvironmental conditions across Canada. Overall, the results suggest that considerable progress has been achieved towards environmental sustainability, but that further expansion and intensification of cropping and livestock production has the potential to exacerbate the environmental risks unless appropriate actions are taken to manage them. The main AEI results for the period 1981 to 2001 can be summarized as follows: 1) Environmental farm management: This component consists of five indicators, including three that currently provide national coverage (Soil Cover, Residual Soil Nitrogen and Energy Use Efficiency). Results are mixed, with soil cover showing overall improvement, whereas nitrogen use efficiency and energy use efficiency have declined. The two other indicators are still under development (Water Use Efficiency: Irrigation and Integrated Pest Management). 2) Soil quality: There are five soil quality indicators with results, including separate indicators for assessing the risk of soil erosion by water, wind and tillage. The Soil Organic Carbon Change Indicator tracks changes in soil carbon content, and estimates CO2 sequestration in agricultural soils. The Risk of Soil Salinization Indicator is designed to assess the change in soil salinity on the Prairies. All five indicators showed improvement, with a majority of land in the very low risk classes for erosion and salinity and most land falling into the increasing classes for soil organic carbon change. An additional indicator, the Risk of Soil Contamination by Trace Elements, is being developed to gain a better understanding of how agricultural management practices can affect the levels of trace elements in the soil and change their bioavailability. 3) Water quality: On the water quality front, two separate indicators were used to assess the Risk of Water Contamination by Nitrogen and by Phosphorus, taking into account changes in land use (e.g. shifts in crop area) and management practices (e.g. fertilizer inputs). Mixed results were obtained for these two indicators. While close to two-thirds of the land shows a low or very low risk of water contamination by nitrogen, the 20-year trend is worsening. By contrast, the trend for the risk of water contamination by phosphorus (Quebec only) is improving, although only a third of farmland is in the lowest risk classes. Two additional indicators, dealing with pesticides and pathogens, are still under development. 4) Air quality: One air quality indicator is currently available—the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Budget estimates greenhouse gas (nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide) emissions from agricultural sources. The indicator shows a positive national trend, with a 4% reduction in net GHG emissions during the period under review. This trend is largely attributable to an increase in soil carbon sequestration, which compensated for a rise in nitrous oxide and methane emissions. Work is continuing on the development of indicators for measuring agricultural emissions of ammonia and particulate matter. 5) Biodiversity: Biodiversity is assessed using the Indicator of Wildlife Habitat on Farmland, which provides insight into trends in wildlife habitat availability on Canadian farms. Somewhat negative results were obtained for this indicator, with more farmland showing a decreasing trend in habitat capacity than a rising trend. Several other indicators are currently under development: risk of wildlife damage; invasive alien species; and soil biodiversity. 6) Food and Beverage Industry: AAFC’s science-based indicator approach is being expanded to include eco-efficiency indicators for the food and beverage industry as well. These indicators, still under development, will cover the following environmental issues: energy use and greenhouse gas emissions; water use and effluent generation; and organic solid residues and packaging wastes.

Type de document: Rapport – bilan
Type de document ou de rapport: Rapports Techniques
Nombre de pages: 232
Éditeur: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Lieu de publication: Ottawa
Statut du texte intégral: Public
Mots-clés libres: Environmental farm management, Soil quality, Water quality, Air quality, Biodiversity, Food and beverage industry, Intensification of cropping, Indicators
Sujets: 1. Laboratoire de développement durable > 1.5. Société, qualité de vie, santé, sécurité
1. Laboratoire de développement durable > 1.7. Environnement, écologie, écosystème
2. Milieu physique > 2.4. Hydrologie
6. Milieu humain > 6.2. Agriculture
8. Impacts et monitoring > 8.1. Qualité de l’eau
8. Impacts et monitoring > 8.7. Modélisations et indicateurs
Date de dépôt: 14 mai 2017 20:28
Dernière modification: 14 mai 2017 20:28
ISBN: 0-662-42205-8

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