Fertility and Nutrients
Top 10 tips for environmental protection
By Rosalie I. Tennison
If a you could do one thing right now to protect the environment, what would it be? Here are some ideas.
Potatoes in Canada asked many prominent potato researchers in Canada
for ideas on easy or simple techniques that growers could adopt immediately
to protect the environment. The emphasis was on ideas that would not require
large investment or extensive changes in management. Some ideas may seem complex
but are one-time adjustments that can be followed once put in place. Here are
1. Integrated Pest Management practices – Develop a pest management plan
that you consider before applying pesticides. Consider the target pests and
use scouting, economic threshold or forecasting tools that are available prior
to deciding if spraying is necessary. This protects the environment and has
potential economic benefits. Dr. Tracy Shinners-Carnelley, Manitoba Agriculture
Food and Rural Initiatives.
2. Have a soil conservation plan – There are government assistance programs
to help growers develop these plans that, once in place, form a blueprint on
how to best conserve your soil resources. Issues, such as planning rotations
around available crop land, become part of the blueprint. Jean-Louis Daigle,
Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre, New Brunswick.
3. Good nutrition is of primary importance – Achieving and maintaining
good soil condition to properly sustain the crop which includes appropriate
fertilization, appropriate rotations and good drainage. Excessive nitrogen application
can lead to off-site impacts through surface and ground water. Good nutrition
and soil condition is important at all times, particularly when unfavourable
weather stresses the crop. Dr. Richard Tarn, Potato Research Centre, Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada, New Brunswick.
4. Dispose of chemical containers properly – The woods out behind the
storage is not an approved dump site. Return your containers to an approved
site. Dr. Loretta Mikitzel, New Brunswick Agriculture, Fisheries & Aquaculture.
5. Develop a system of grade diversions and grassed waterways – It is
an expensive proposition, but in areas with rolling topography and dramatic
climate conditions, this is the best way to ensure sustainable production. Once
developed, there is little cost to maintain the waterways which become drainage
channels to divert peak moisture discharges in a non-erosive manner. Herb
Rees, National Program on Environmental Health, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,
6. Calibrate your equipment – Whether it is equipment for fertilizer applications,
herbicide and pesticide applications or irrigation equipment, proper calibration
and adherence to recommended application rates help ensure effective and efficient
operations so applied chemicals reach their target and are not wasted elsewhere
to contaminate the environment. Dr. Richard Tarn, Potato Research Centre,
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, New Brunswick.
7. Get involved with research – By learning about new technologies, new
varieties and new market opportunities, producers can apply their findings to
their operation in the most efficient way. This will reduce the environmental
impact. For example, if a grower can get a profitable contract for a premium
variety, they might need to use less acreage. The same is true for growing better
quality varieties with higher payable loads. Vanessa Currie, University of
8. Soil test – Knowing how much fertilizer to apply and following those
recommendations saves money and the environment. Dr. Loretta Mikitzel, New
Brunswick Agriculture, Fisheries & Aquaculture.
9. Underseed rotational crops – Underseeding with selected grasses and
legumes increase crop residues which help maintain soil organic matter levels.
Underseeding of grain crops can increase organic matter contribution to the
soil by as much as 40 to 90 percent. Herb Rees, National Program on Environmental
Health, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, New Brunswick.
10. Know the varieties you grow – In North America, quality differences
are most generally recognized, but there are differences among varieties in
their responses to diseases and pests in the field and in storage. Know the
characteristics of the varieties you grow and if there is opportunity, consider
similar quality varieties with better resistance to pests. By knowing the characteristics
of a variety, a grower can better anticipate crop response to different situations
and, where possible, adjust management accordingly. Dr. Richard Tarn, Potato
Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, New Brunswick. -30-