Fertilizer emissions reduction target: Completed consultation

From: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Current status: Closed

This consultation ran from March 4, 2022 to August 31, 2022.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada launched additional consultations to help guide the development of an approach for achieving Canada's fertilizer emissions reduction target of 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

The Government of Canada consulted with Canadians, including farmers, producers, processors, Indigenous communities, women in agriculture, youth, environmental organizations, small and emerging sectors as well as other key stakeholders and partners.

If you have additional comments or questions please contact us at aafc.fertilizer-engrais.aac@agr.gc.ca.

What We Heard Report

Document: What We Heard Report - Fertilizer Emissions Reduction

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Fertilizer emissions reduction target: Frequently asked questions

  • Q1: Is the Government of Canada establishing mandatory reductions in fertilizer use?

    A1: Nitrogen fertilizer plays an important role in Canadian agriculture. Efforts to achieve emissions reductions will focus on improving nitrogen management and optimizing fertilizer use – not a mandatory reduction in the use of fertilizers. For example, practices such as the use of enhanced efficiency fertilizers, minimizing Fall application and/or broadcasting of fertilizers, increased use of pulses in crop rotations, and annual soil testing can improve nitrogen use efficiency and reduce emissions.

    The Government of Canada is working collaboratively with the agriculture sector, partners and stakeholders in identifying opportunities that will allow us to successfully reach this target.

  • Q2: How will AAFC support the sector to achieve the fertilizer emissions reduction target?

    A2: Feedback from public consultations will be used by the Government of Canada to inform next steps in the development of an approach to reduce emissions and improve nutrient management in Canadian agriculture. This will also help identify steps to better measure and account for nitrous oxide emissions and consider opportunities for innovation. In addition, AAFC will be engaging on a Green Agriculture Plan for Canada to support the agriculture sector's actions on climate change and other environmental priorities towards 2030 and 2050. The fertilizer target will build on the innovation, expertise, and ingenuity of Canada's farmers to reduce emissions while maintaining and improving the quality and yields Canadian agriculture is known for around the world.

    While consultation and engagement related to the fertilizer emission reduction target is ongoing, the Government of Canada has programs in place to assist producers in implementing practices that support efficient nutrient management. For example:

    • The $165 million Agricultural Clean Technology Program (ACT) provides support for pre-market innovation, development, and adoption of transformative clean technologies required to achieve a low-carbon economy and promote sustainable growth in Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector.
    • Budget 2022 included another $330 million for the ACT program to expand its scope.
    • Budget 2022 also provided $470 million more under Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) through the On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF).
    • This allows OFCAF to top-up funding for some current successful applicants, broaden support for climate mitigation practices, and for adoption practices that contribute to reaching the fertilizer emissions target.
    • ACS also includes the $185-million Living Labs initiative, which co-develops, monitors, and tests how working farms store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Q3: Will 4R Nutrient Stewardship be used as a tool to achieve emissions reductions?

    A3: The Government of Canada is committed to working with all partners and stakeholders to develop an approach to meet this target and build upon work already underway in the agriculture sector and beyond.

    4R Nutrient Stewardship has the potential to contribute to the fertilizer emissions reduction target, but it will likely need to be considered alongside a suite of other mechanisms to ensure that the target is fully met.

    Scientific assessments by AAFC show the widespread adoption of some practices associated with 4R could lead to large-scale emissions reductions. For example, analysis indicates that the use of enhanced efficiency fertilizers containing both nitrification and urease inhibitors could reduce emissions by 15 to 35%, translating to approximately 2.4 Mt per year, and split application of fertilizer (at seeding and later in the growing season) could provide 15-35% reductions over regular N fertilizer practices.

  • Q4: What is your timeline for the consultation process?

    A4: In response to stakeholder feedback, public consultation on the discussion document will close August 31st, 2022.

    Throughout the summer, AAFC will facilitate a series of technical workshops to hear directly from the sector and bring together scientists, government, and industry experts to discuss opportunities to reduce fertilizer emissions. Following these consultations, AAFC will release a What We Heard Report outlining stakeholder feedback received throughout the engagement process.

  • Q5: How is the Government of Canada's fertilizer emissions reduction target different from the European Union's Farm to Fork Strategy?

    A5: Canada's emissions reduction target does not represent a mandatory reduction in fertilizer use, but rather a reduction in fertilizer emissions. The goal is to maximize efficiency, optimize fertilizer use, encourage innovation, and to work collaboratively with the agriculture sector, partners and stakeholders in identifying opportunities that will allow us to successfully reach this target while maintaining or increasing yields. Approaches to reducing emissions from fertilizer application will vary across the world, dependent on domestic considerations, including but not limited to growing conditions such as soil type, humidity, crop type, and climate change impacts. For more information on the European Union's Farm to Fork strategy, including with respect to the EU's fertilizer reduction target, please visit Farm to Fork strategy.