The United Nations has declared today – March 22, 2016 – as World Water Day.
Did you know Canada has approximately 20 per cent of the world’s total fresh water supply? But, less than half of our supply is considered “renewable” — that is, it’s readily available and of a certain quality. That means, based on water cycling and recycling times, that Canada has only 7 per cent of the global “renewable” supply of water. Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Farmers are the original environmentalists and understand the importance of healthy soil, water and air. Farmers live on their farms with their families and depend on the environment to create a healthy place to live, as well as the right conditions to grow crops and raise livestock.
Farmers work hard to grow food sustainably, ensuring the land is of good quality for future generations and is left in better shape than how it was when they started farming it. Canadian farmers are always proactively working to protect the environment and growing more food with fewer inputs such as water.
Some high-value and weather sensitive crops — usually fruits and vegetables — require irrigation. Today’s irrigation systems come in a variety of forms, and are made to make sure every drop of water is used. Water availability and quality are an important issue for all of us.
In Canada only 8.5 per cent of farms use any form of irrigation. The remaining 91.5 per cent of farms rely solely on precipitation for crop watering. Irrigation is used on higher quality crops like berries, fruits and vegetables that are for direct human consumption.
Sometimes land used to grow crops is too wet, so farmers will drain it using underground tile to remove surplus water from fields. This improves crop quality and yield and reduces water runoff and soil erosion.
In some provinces, farmers must apply for a government-issued permit to take water to ensure that they are using water resources properly and in an environmentally responsible way.
Research projects across Canada involve farmers, government, commodity organizations and universities in an effort to grow more food with fewer resources, while protecting the environment. Check out some of the projects they’re working on here and here.
For more about farmers and irrigation, check out these facts and figures.