Environmental impacts from herbicide tolerant canola production in Western Canada
The commercial production of herbicide tolerant (HT) canola began in Western Canada in 1997. With more than a decade of use, the actual farm-level environmental impact of HT canola can be evaluated. This article reports on a spring 2007 survey of nearly 600 canola farmers in the three prairie provinces of Western Canada. Producers were asked about their crop production experiences for 2005 and 2006 and expected crop planting for 2007. A reduction in the total number of chemical applications over the 3-year period was reported, resulting in a decrease of herbicide active ingredient being applied to farmland in Western Canada of nearly 1.3 million kg annually. Fewer tillage passes over the survey period were reported, improving moisture conservation, decreasing soil erosion and contributing to carbon sequestration in annual cropland. An estimated 1 million tonnes of carbon is either sequestered or no longer released under land management facilitated by HT canola production, as compared to 1995. The value of this carbon off-set is estimated to be C$5 million. Comparisons with similar studies and against non-adoption of HT canola can guide future decisions about HT canola adoption.
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