The fertilizer industry in Canada is proving to be a pillar to the Canadian economy, contributing to $12 million annually and 12,000 Canadian jobs. Therefore, there’s a close eye on the industry to examine how it’s innovating to reduce its greenhouse gas emission. Fertilizer Canada is making significant strides to provide an effective framework for all partners in the industry to positively impact the environment.
Nitrous oxide is a type of greenhouse gas that is primarily emitted from the fertilizer industry in Canada. It makes up about 50% of the warming effect from agriculture emissions.
Nitrous oxide is a major contributor to climate change for two main reasons. The first is that it has such a long atmospheric lifetime — over 100 years — which means nitrous oxide use becomes a compounded problem as we continue to use it. Second, as a greenhouse gas, it contributes far more to rising temperatures than carbon dioxide because it’s 300 times better at trapping gas. Even small emissions of Nitrous oxide are wreaking havoc on our climate.
The gas is produced primarily by small microbes in soil of all kinds. In agriculture, the gas is emitted mainly from fertilized soils and animal wastes. In the US, agriculture accounts for only 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions but contributes 75 percent of all nitrous oxide emission linked to human activity.
As the fertilizer industry continues to grow rapidly in Canada, all interested partners agree that it is critical to reduce nitrous oxide emissions. In April 2018, Fertilizer Canada put forth a National Nitrous Oxide Emission Reduction Protocol (NERP) Strategy. It calls for all Canadian growers to “implement the NERP and play a role in reducing carbon emissions on their farms.”
The goal of this strategy is to have a consistent implementation of the NERP across the fertilizer industry in Canada. In addition to this strategy, Fertilizer Canada has been advocating its 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program across the country and worldwide. The 4R Stewardship Program calls for using the right source, at the right rate, at the right time and at the right place. As the need for global food production increases, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship looks to accomplish this without the need to expand farmland.
Fertilizer Canada is playing a key role in providing valuable education and a framework for growers to responsibly operate their food production while setting an example for the world to follow. Canadian energy manufacturers, like Solex Thermal Science, are also taking steps to design their products with environmental sustainability in mind.
Canadian businesses and organizations are growing more closely aligned with Canada’s Sustainable Development Strategy and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It’s without any doubt that Canada is setting an example for the global community on how multiple players in an industry can get together to positively impact the environment. These efforts could not have been accomplished without incredible innovation in Canada’s fertilizer industry. As innovation continues within Canada so will its leadership in the industry.