Agro-Environment: When Agriculture and Environment Meet in the Present

Environment is our most valuable resource. The elements that make it up are undoubtedly of most importance to farmers, regardless of their type of production. There will be no farming without soil, air and water. However, our relationship with everything related to the environment has changed fundamentally over the last 100 years; Today, farmers are doing everything they can to protect these invaluable resources.

A hundred years ago, when subsistence agriculture gave way to production agriculture to meet the demands of a growing society, no one imagined the consequences it could have. Industrialization, urbanization, and world wars had increased the need for food and basic non-food products (soap, wool, tobacco, etc.) from agriculture. It was necessary to produce much more at all costs, even though the transition to more productive agriculture was not an easy task in itself.

Grow or disappear!

The economic crisis of the late 1920s, the transition to a capitalist system (a novelty for many) and agricultural productivity imposed by governments were difficult for farmers lacking financial resources. If many farmers choose to move to the city to find stable employment in a factory, those who continue their agricultural activities find themselves in a cycle of continuous growth, which is often difficult to slow down, as they have to face difficulties in accessing the market. To reach there one has to produce more. The demand, but above all for the financing of necessary investments, often exceeds the income generated. To respond to the new agricultural economy, farms must now choose the specialization of production that is most appropriate and profitable.

After World War II, there was significant growth in all areas of activity. The chemical, petroleum and pharmaceutical industries are developing molecules that will have new phytosanitary applications; We discover the properties of algaecides, fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers and other synthetic modifications specifically aimed at improving yields and reducing diseases in plant and animal production. Countless advances make it possible to improve varieties by selecting the strongest and most efficient profiles. Could such knowledge be the key to saying goodbye to the problem of world hunger? This is what many countries thought by implementing “Green Revolution” policies, i.e. the use of a combination of optimal varieties (seed for the plant or genetic profile for the animal component) known to be high yielding and well balanced. Inputs and irrigation supplies. This Green Revolution (also known as the Third Agricultural Revolution) began in Mexico in 1943 and was quickly adopted by other countries, including India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. For many years, everywhere on the planet, production has increased manyfold and we could not even imagine what consequences it could have such as wear and tear or depletion of resources.

Among the first published reflections on resource scarcity was the Meadows Report, commissioned by the Club of Rome in 1970. The report, updated several times since publication, was the first to address the limits to development in terms of economic, demographic and resource conservation. Then, the United Nations will also take interest in environmental issues. It was not until 1987 that sustainable development was explicitly named with the presentation of the Brundtland Report, which was also the prelude to the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This group, which brings together scientists from around the world, has highlighted the existence of global warming caused by human activity. From 1992 onwards the IPCC will publish recommendations to reduce its impacts.

UPA Archives

Agriculture inhabits this region and hence it always co-exists with its surroundings and its immediate environment. In 1994, the UPA, keen to confront scientific findings and equip its members with current knowledge, adopted its first agri-environment strategy. Responding to social pressures and tightening environmental regulations, the strategy aims to establish strong partnerships to raise awareness among producers and gain technical expertise to help drive change while respecting the profitability of agribusinesses. The first agro-environmental mapping was carried out in 1997 among 18,000 livestock farms, making it possible to identify and monitor the actions being carried out. This image will be updated in 2003 and 2007. In 2003, the Élévaires de porques du Québec adopted its agri-environment plan.

Over the next ten years, UPA contributed directly to the creation of 75 agro-environmental advisory clubs and worked with a number of partners such as the Wildlife Foundation and the Agricultural Development Research Institute. It publishes good practice guides specifically targeting the pig, cattle and field crop sectors; and participates in several committees to represent the agricultural world. The Union knows that agricultural producers first need a specific action plan for their business with precise objectives, the means to achieve them and a timetable for completion, not rules that apply to them.

In 2007, the first concrete action plan on agri-environment and harmonious cohabitation was implemented jointly and with funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ). Five projects will then be taken forward:

  • water quality;
  • reduction in pesticide use;
  • Biodiversity;
  • climate change and energy efficiency;
  • To promote harmonious living and agro-environmental efforts.

Action is taken at the grassroots level in all areas. However, the project has not been renewed, as MAPAQ is working on something else.

Agro-environmental projects follow each other in the UPA, always integrating the latest scientific knowledge. Video capsules and web series are produced, training and support programs are created to prepare companies wishing to reduce pesticide use and highlight the biodiversity of waterways in agricultural environments. Web series for more than five years Features agricultural businesses, many of which have integrated new practices, particularly with the disciplines special environment And Special Agrobounties – Sustainable Agriculture,

Projects that are growing

Since its first steps into agri-environment, the association has launched several projects to enable it to equip, train and support agribusinesses in the adoption of good environmental practices and the implementation of specific technologies adapted to different forms of production. Are of. The Union has also been an important partner in supporting various initiatives, adopting knowledge and carrying out pilot projects (some of which have already given rise to new projects).

Agriclimate: An Informative Diagnostic Tool

As of 2017, about forty farms are participating in AgriClimate, a project financed by the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks of Quebec (MELCCFP) in close collaboration with researchers from UPA, Ouranos Consortium, MAPAQ. , Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, universities and research centres. Today, almost a hundred farms have addressed the fight against climate change and more will be added soon.

The AgriClimate Project is science in the service of the farm. By developing a diagnostic tool to address climate change at the farm level, this project allows producers to better adapt and target actions to improve their outcomes. The initiative, launched in all regions of Quebec, aims to unite the entire agricultural community to fight individually and collectively against climate change by focusing on knowledge sharing. It helps answer the question: “We often say that every small gesture counts, but what is the value of each gesture when we talk about GHGs? »

Living Laboratories: An Innovative Approach

From 2018 to 2023, the UPA Living Labs initiative, funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), allows growers to be at the center of the research process typically reserved for laboratory scientists. Researchers, manufacturers, and other experts have worked together to develop various projects, many of which have been the subject of scientific publications.

Two new Living Laboratory – Quebec projects were announced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for a period of five years in 2023. One of them will be done by UPA and Agriclimate diagnostics will be used in the works. Once again, the expertise of agricultural producers will be at the center of action and will make it possible to directly co-develop research projects.
In the field.

AgriSolution is another project supported by the Climate Consortium and financed by the AAC Farm Action Fund for Climate. Launching in 2022, the project aims to support the adoption of beneficial management practices to promote greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The project invites agricultural businesses to choose between three components: nitrogen management, implementation of cover crops or climate change.

Regional associations are adding more!

Agro-environment is not the only task of the Confederation. Many regional federations and specialized groups have implemented or are implementing specific projects for the implementation of which they have fully dedicated teams. Let’s think especially about the many projects linked to PAD (Sustainable Agriculture Plan financed by MAPAQ), ALUS projects that improve biodiversity in Montérégie, Outaouais-Laurentides and Chaudière-Appalaches, regional projects interested in soil health , the installation of windbreak hedges and the development of riparian strips, not to mention the many projects carried out in collaboration with watershed organisations, municipalities and the MRC.

The expertise of the association is now recognized and transcends boundaries. In 2022, the organizers of COP 15 invited UPA to present during a panel the results obtained with the first living laboratory project, conducted between 2018 and 2023. The experience was relaunched in 2023 during Season 7.I edition of the international conference Adapting Futures where participants were also able to see the results by visiting the Living Laboratory – an agricultural company participating in the Quebec project.

Apparently, in UPA, Prithvi does much more than just discuss fuel! It is fertile ground for innovation, research and projects that bring hope for the future.

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