Net life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of Canadian organic field crop production systems

organic wheat field

Photo by Polina Rytova on Unsplash

The aim of this project is to quantify the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of major organic crops across Canada, and to understand the underlying factors driving these emissions.

Organic agriculture continues to be among the fastest growing sub-sectors of the agri-food industry in Canada and around the world. Currently occupying ~330,000 ha, the production of organic field crops is of central importance in the context of Canadian organic agriculture as well as the production of a wide range of secondary organic products (e.g. breakfast cereal, bread, animal feeds, etc.) derived from field crops. Organic agriculture is often perceived to be, and promoted as, a climate-friendly alternative to conventional agriculture. However, farm size, production practices, yields and efficiencies can be much more heterogeneous than in conventional agriculture. While some specific organic practices may be relatively climate friendly, others may not be. The implications of this heterogeneity for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of Canadian organic field crops are not well understood. Moreover, a robust comparison of the GHG emissions from organic products to those from conventional, non-organic field crop production systems in Canada, taking into account regionally-specific production conditions and efficiencies, has not been possible to date.

Project contributors

Goretty Diasa,b, Peter Tyedmersc, Nathan PelletierdGiancarlo Lorenaa,bRyan Johnsona,b, Shenali Madhanaroopana,b, Emily Laagec, Lana Puddud, Nicole Bamberd

aWaterloo Industrial Ecology Group

bSchool of Environment, Enterprise and Development

cDalhousie University

dUniversity of British Columbia