Council of Canadian Academies: Canadian agriculture is faced with great opportunities, but also challenged by water-related risks and uncertainties.

Water and Agriculture in Canada: Towards Sustainable Management of Water Resources 

The agricultural sector is an important contributor to Canada’s prosperity and well-being and there are substantial opportunities for the sector in the coming decades. However, Canadian agriculture is also challenged by water-related risks and uncertainties. Growing competition for water, land, and other resources, in addition to the uncertain impact of climate change and variability, will place increased stress on agricultural production in Canada and throughout the world. To better understand this complex issue, the Council was asked by Agriculture and Agri-Food to conduct an evidence-based assessment to identify what additional science is needed to better guide sustainable management of water to meet the needs of agriculture.

To conduct the assessment, the Council convened a Panel of 15 Canadian and international experts from diverse fields. Dr. Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, chaired the Expert Panel.

The Panel has developed an authoritative report that explores five key areas where additional science and action can contribute to better sustainable management of water in agriculture.

These five key areas are:

The risks and uncertainties of market conditions, competition for land and water resources, and climate change;

Improved monitoring and data interpretation that could be used to facilitate adaptive management techniques;

The interaction between land management and water resources – including the assessment of beneficial management practices (BMPs), conservation agriculture, and ecosystem services approaches;

Promising farm-scale technologies that could contribute to efficient water use, reduced environmental impacts, and sound investment decisions;

Governance structures, valuation techniques, economic incentives, and knowledge transfer strategies that would help to facilitate better management decisions and uptake of sustainable practices;

Question

What additional science is needed to better guide sustainable management of water to meet the needs of agriculture?

Report and related products:

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in Agricultural Landscapes of Canada was chaired by Dr. Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability and Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in Agricultural Landscapes of Canada page.

For further information, please contact:

Cate Meechan, Director of Communications at 613-567-5000 ext. 228 or cathleen.meechan@scienceadvice.ca

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