What have we been up to?
NATURE BASED SOLUTIONS IN CANADA
Dr. Brian McConky of Viresco Solutions joined experts in a multi-year assessment of Nature-Based Solutions in Canada. Recently published in Science Advances, experts estimate the mitigation potential of 24 NCS related to the protection, management, and restoration of natural systems that can also deliver numerous co-benefits, such as enhanced soil productivity, clean air and water, and biodiversity conservation. The paper outlines the potential to provide p to 78.2 (41.0 to 115.1) Tg CO2e/year (95% CI) of mitigation annually in 2030 and 394.4 (173.2 to 612.4) Tg CO2e cumulatively between 2021 and 2030, with 34% available at ≤CAD 50/Mg CO2e and highlights the potential of avoided connversion of grassland, avoided peatland disturbance, cover crops, and improved forest management. For more information see:
MOVING THE NEEDLE ON CANADA’S BEEF SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS AND QUANTIFICATION
Viresco is leading a project co-funded by the Government of Alberta, McDonalds and Alberta Beef Producers, to make real progress on linking farmers with high-level sustainability targets being set by multi-nationals.
Working closely with the Cool Farm Alliance, Anthesis Group and, most importantly, Alberta’s beef farmers, we are adapting the Cool Farm Tool to effectively track emissions from beef production and identify practical opportunities to improve the footprint of Canada’s beef sector. By doing so, we are taking critical steps to enable private-sector investment in Canada’s beef farmers, in return for an improved environmental footprint of beef products. This also opens opportunities for Canadian beef to be marketed as a premium low-carbon product while challenging the current narrative around beef production.
Creating a line-of-sight between the farmer and large multinationals setting corporate GHG commitments is a critical gap being tackled by this project.
STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN – AN INDUSTRY PLAN TO GROW AGRICULTURE & FORESTRY IN ALBERTA
NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
Viresco Solutions has a long history of monetizing carbon removals in both the Province of Alberta as well as Nationally. Thanks in part to the leadership and efforts of Viresco Solutions, along with many other committed allies, Canada continues to be a leader in the adoption of Natural Climate Solutions (NCS – also known as Nature Based Solutions). The impact of NCS goes far beyond the farm, for example, by keeping and building organic matter in the soil, conservation tillage can significantly remove produced carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere, and convert it to soil organic carbon through a process known as carbon sequestration. Since the early 1980’s, innovative collaborations between members of the value chain in agriculture including federal government researchers, provincial government extension specialists, equipment manufacturers, input suppliers, farm groups and farmers themselves have reached a point of adoption in conservation tillage where farmlands across Canada are now removing over 10 Mt of CO2 from the atmosphere every year through conservation tillage.
MONETIZING CANADA’S AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
A recent cost-benefit analysis conducted out of the University of Saskatchewan quantified the impact of the shared value partnerships in deploying and innovating no-till technology across prairie landscapes from 1985 to 2010. This study demonstrates the power of value chain partners in scaling emission reductions and removals across landscapes in agriculture. The direct on-site benefits (fuel, equipment, labour, and productivity) were worth $24.3 B over that time period (2014 CAD$), including 50% of the benefit captured through technology innovation, and resulting jobs in the no-till and direct seeding equipment manufacturing sector in Canada. The indirect benefits (GHG reductions and carbon sequestration) resulted in over $1B (2014 CAD$) worth of value at $5/tonne emission reductions. The return to investment in the R&D and shared value partnerships by extending/deploying this technological shift in conservation farming is valued at a benefit:cost ratio of 60.8:1, relative to a delayed adoption scenario. Viresco Solutions is ready to help you drive change with today’s new digital and precision ‘Smart’ agricultural technologies by tapping into the economic benefits.
THE CANADIAN NITROUS OXIDE EMISSION REDUCTIONS PROTOCOL (NERP) IS BECOMING A GLOBAL STANDARD
Viresco Solutions has been a driving force in the development of the NERP. The NERP is an agricultural carbon offset protocol being adapted across Canada, that gives growers a new way to benefit from reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their farms. The NERP provides producers the opportunity to generate revenue from N2O reductions by switching to an integrated set of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) for applying nutrients, referred to as 4R Nutrient Stewardship. 4R Nutrient Stewardship in the context of the NERP involves applying nitrogen sources in a more sophisticated way following the “4R’s” of right source at the right rate, right time and right placeTM. Implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship results in applied nitrogen being used more effectively, which increases economic performance for farmers by reducing the input costs per unit of crop yield produced.
NERP is a win – win! In addition to reducing GHG emissions, the NERP helps growers:
- Increase food security and prosperity,
- Deploy precision farming by employing variable rate nitrogen fertilizer application; along with other inputs, and,
- Improve soil health and water quality through the application of regionally specific best management practices.
The approach of 4R Nutrient Stewardship and integrated BMPs is gaining global acceptance as a simple systems-based stewardship platform for agriculture that is science-based and supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Recently, the NERP and 4R were recognized in the SDG Industry Matrix, published by the UN Global Compact, as an example solution to Climate Change and as a global good practice. The 4R NERP approach is also being deployed through shared value partnerships with members of the agriculture supply chains including the adoption of the approach by Field to Market members in the US (see: https://fieldtomarket.org/update-proposed-revision-greenhouse-gas-emissions-metric-approved/). The 4R NERP approach has also been endorsed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as a climate-smart agricultural practice. NERP is globally scalable and partnerships continue to grow internationally with the World Business Council and Sustainable Development and others to make a meaningful impact.
Have a look at some of Viresco’s work
Viresco staff love to share their passion on the issues they work with. As some of Canada’s leading experts in developing science-based metrics and solutions, we are passionate about what we do and are committed to helping others make transformational change by pushing boundaries and sharing our knowledge and experience.
The links below highlight some of Viresco’s work and staff:
Conservation and agriculture have often been at odds. But as Ottawa develops the first federal carbon offset standard, farming techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions are having a moment. This is the fifth part of Carbon Cache, an ongoing series about nature-based climate solutions.
Candace Vinke of Viresco Solutions in Calgary explained some of the challenges and opportunities the carbon economy opened to agriculture when she spoke at a recent workshop in Stanley Bridge organized by the PEI. Institute of Agrologists.
One of the mandates of Alberta Beef Producers is to help the beef industry reduce its environmental impacts and try to promote areas where we can demonstrate how raising cattle on native and tame pastures can benefit the environment. This is mostly done through recognizing the value of ecosystem services that we provide on our land for the benefit of all Albertans, while raising cattle or other livestock.
The Western Producer
Land trust agencies, a carbon project developer, ranchers, the eco goods and service development company Viresco Solutions Inc. and Shell Canada are developing a pilot program to measure how much carbon is sequestered and then calculate payments.
Some 75 agriculture organizations recently joined together to strengthen and promote agriculture’s role in carbon offsetting. These groups created the new Coalition on Offset Solutions, according to a Mar. 27 release.
A new report outlines agriculture’s role in providing carbon credits as part of a Cap and Trade System for Ontario. The report, Enabling Offsets at Scale in Ontario’s Agricultural Sector, was recently released as the first phase of a joint project between the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and Viresco Solutions Inc.
Preview article write-up on Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference held in March 2019.
More than 75 agriculture industry leaders from crop and livestock organizations, NGOs, government, universities, First Nations, and agribusinesses, including Carbon Credit Solutions, Agrium and Ducks Unlimited Canada, have come together to form the Coalition on Offset Solutions. The coalition advocates the creation of a global Bio-Offset Hub and a dedicated $30M+ multi-year innovation fund for research and advances in the optimization of greenhouse gas reductions and the generation of economic value for agriculture and forestry producers as well as municipalities. The hub will be a multi-stakeholder network for collaboration with government and funding agencies to develop emission reduction policies and programs.
Opportunities are emerging for beef producers to benefit from carbon dioxide emission offset markets at both the cow-calf and feeder levels. Agricultural emission offset projects are attractive to companies required to purchase emission offsets and those voluntarily making a positive environmental impact. The added benefits of these projects, a result of sustainable production practices, are often just as enticing.