Moving Toward Prairie Agriculture 2050
Introduction by authors Brian Amiro, Christine Rawluk and Karin Wittenberg:
Climate and weather: a common discussion topic in coffee shops across the Prairies. Discussions tend to be driven by our experiences, and these are influenced by recent events, especially extreme or catastrophic ones. Record heat, record cold, record snowfall, record flood, record drought – all invoke some desire to attribute extremes to driving factors. A changing climate, caused by increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, may be driving some events but attribution of any event is not possible. As
Agrologists, we have a responsibility to consider climate and weather effects on our agricultural production systems, irrespective of causes. The best advice we can offer will consider future resilience so that agricultural systems have capacity to cope with the current climate, as well as potential future conditions.
This report addresses the question of Climate and Food: Is There a Future? through the eyes of 23 experts with thoughts on our Prairie agricultural systems over the next 35 years. Many of the contributors are Professional Agrologists, who discuss the need for us to adapt in response to likely scenarios for our future climate while considering the uncertainty in any future prognosis. The contributors come from all three Prairie Provinces and work in government (federal, provincial), industry and university. As in any discussion of the future, the relative impact of change or of new technology cannot be predicted with accuracy. Consider what has happened in the past 35 years, and that the 1980 reality was no internet, no cell phones, no GPS, and the start of canola! Our history is one of technological advances arising from adversity. But to charge forward expecting as-yet undiscovered technologies to save us from the potential ills of climate change is a risky approach. Our best strategy for preparedness is ongoing dialogue based on what we know now, evolving as we learn more. The goal for this report is to generate discussion so that we can prepare ourselves to better adapt to an uncertain future.