Take action for the environment – by learning from farmers

2009-efp-video-shoot-041aThe federal government has developed a series of suggestions for Canadians to be more environmentally conscious.

The tips – listed on a website called Take Action for the Environment – cover a variety of areas, but some of them, in my opinion, come directly from agriculture and represent things that farmers have been doing for years. For example:

Saving energy – Many livestock barns and greenhouses are climate controlled for the comfort of the animals inside or to grow special crops all year long. Pigs and chickens, for example, are often housed in temperature controlled barns so that they’re not exposed to Canada’s cold, harsh winters. And if it weren’t for our greenhouses, we couldn’t enjoy local tomatoes and peppers all year long!

But energy, as we all know, is expensive. So farmers are working to reduce that cost, for example, by growing special crops that can be used for heat or implementing newer, greener technologies.

2009-efp-video-shoot-018aReducing water use – crops and animals can take a lot of water so many farmers are now using sophisticated systems to only apply water where and when it is needed and make sure the water is recycled back into the earth so it can be used again.

Looking for bargains – Farmers are the ultimate super shoppers, in my opinion. Farm equipment is expensive – a new tractor can easily cost over $100,000 and most farms need more than one.  Inputs, which are things like seed, crop protection and fertilizers that are needed to make crops grow, are also pricey.  So it’s essential to be a sharp shopper, buy in bulk where possible  and get the best deal you can.

Limiting pesticide use – this is one area where Ontario farmers are tops. Over the last two decades, they’ve reduced their pesticide use by more than 50% by using alternative methods like integrated pest management (simply put, using good bugs to fight bad ones), improving their spraying equipment and taking courses to learn about best practices for usage and handling.

Every farmer in Ontario must take a one day course in order to buy and use crop protection products – now there’s something most homeowners would benefit from as well!

A note about the photos: both were taken in a greenhouse near Jordan Station, Ontario – Frisia Flora Greenhouses – this past spring. The top picture shows a plant with a probe to measure water needs and a white envelope that contains a biological pest control. The lower picture shows part of the greenhouse’s sophisticated watering system.

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