An untold Canadian environmental success story
New crop technologies, modern farm equipment and better farming practices have made a world of difference in long-term soil health. It's an untold Canadian success story that bodes well for the future of the environment and global food security.
Pat Beaujot is a co-founder of Seed Hawk, a Canadian company that produces equipment for farmers who use no-till or conservation tillage, which means working the soil as little as possible when planting crops.
“Conservation and no-till is when a farmer seeds his crop in the standing stubble of the previous year's crop,” explains Beaujot, a University of Saskatchewan soil science grad. “I have a real passion for soil conservation and trying to help people change their farming practices.”
Organic matter is the glue that holds soil particles together and helps soil hold water and nutrients, making it the most important ingredient for long-term soil viability and productivity. Tillage breaks down that organic matter and leaves soil susceptible to wind or water erosion.
According to Beaujot, today's technologies, like better tillage, seeding equipment and crop biotechnology, lets farmers build and conserve that organic matter.
“One of the biggest technologies that has come along for farmers that practice no-till is biotech crops,” he says.
Farmers can plant a crop like biotech canola, then use pesticides to get rid of all the weeds growing in it without harming the crop itself or needing to work the soil.
“Pesticides and biotechnology have improved the soil and the environment in many ways,” says Beaujot. “To go from what we saw here in the '70s when dust was blowing and soil was being eroded to what we have today where crops are grown year after year, it's a huge environmental success story for the world to see.”