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(Canada in a Changing Climate)
"Global climatic changes will in all likelihood result in both positive and negative impacts on Canadian agriculture.”
In their summary of Canadian research as part of the Canada Country Study, Brklacich et al. stated that climate change will have a wide range of impacts on agriculture in Canada. Most regions of the country are expected to experience warmer conditions, longer frost-free seasons and increased evapotranspiration. The actual impacts of these changes on agricultural operations, however, will vary depending on factors such as precipitation changes, soil conditions and land use. In general, northern agricultural regions are expected to benefit most from longer and warmer frost-free seasons. Some northern locations (e.g., Peace River region of Alberta and British Columbia, and parts of northern Ontario and Quebec) may also experience new opportunities for cultivation, although the benefits will likely be restricted to areas south of latitude 60°N for the next several decades. Poor soil conditions will be a major factor limiting the northward expansion of agricultural crops. In southern Ontario and Quebec, warmer conditions may increase the potential for the growth of specialty crops, such as apples.
In many cases, the positive and negative impacts of climate change would tend to offset each other. For instance, the positive impacts of warmer temperatures and enhanced CO2 on crop growth are expected to largely offset the negative impacts of increased moisture stress and accelerated crop maturation time. It should be noted that these predictions are characterized by a high degree of uncertainty and do not include potential changes in pest and pathogen outbreaks (e.g., warmer winters may increase grasshopper infestations in the Prairies), nor do they consider the potential impacts of agricultural land fragmentation.
Agricultural adaptation to climate change was considered a relatively new field of study at the time of the Canada Country Study. The majority of adaptation research focused on identifying adaptation options and assessing their feasibility. These studies were mainly technical in nature, and did not consider economic practicalities or the capacity of producers to undertake the adaptation. To address this, Brklacich et al.recommended increasing the farming community’s involvement in adaptation research.
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