WGRF predicts future of Prairie crop production and research
April 15, 2021 By Top Crop Manager
Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) has released a report on anticipated future changes for Prairie crop production and implications for research.
The survey, commissioned as part of WGRF’s 40th anniversary, involved 60 interviews with scientists, farmers, private sector companies, researchers and WGRF member organizations. The questions were designed to assess how the respondents believed western crop production would change over the short and longer terms.
Technology was identified as a major component of the future of crop farming. Autonomous tech, precision agriculture and improved weather forecasting are expected to change how farming is done. One obstacle that will need to be confronted is making the sheer volume of data collected on each individual farm usable in some manner, especially to improve efficiency and profitability.
While cereals, canola and pulses are anticipated to remain the major acreage crops grown, factors like rotational crops, diseases and whether climate change would allow for more warmer season crops created uncertainty among respondents.
Increased regulation of crop inputs is expected, including changing use allowances or restrictions for pesticides and fertilizers. Alternate methods of weed control were listed as an area that required more research and understanding.
The future of research and extension on the Prairies was considered of particular importance, with many respondents concerned by the reduction of public research and funding and governmental extension positions.
Greater clarity on the topic of sustainability – particularly in regards to a firm definition of regenerative agriculture and the balance of benefits to profitability of associated systems – was asked for by many respondents. The carbon tax and rapid, low-cost ways of demonstrating compliance with the new regulations was also of major importance.