Greenhouse Gas Research Gets $2.2 Million in Federal Support

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Buffer plantings near Plattsville, Ont.

University of Guelph researchers developing creative ways to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions received more than $2.2 million from the federal government today.

Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph, made the announcement on campus on behalf of Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

In total, the government will invest more than $25 million from the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program in 20 projects across Canada.

“Canadian farmers are great stewards of the land and the environment,” MacAulay said. “These new investments are part of the government’s commitment to address climate change and ensuring our farming sector are world leaders in the use and development of clean and sustainable technology and processes.”

Prof. Naresh Thevathasan

Longfield added: “Farmers are always looking at ways to preserve soil health, manage clean waterways, and at the same time improve productivity for a sustainable food supply. These investments at the University of Guelph will help Canadian farmers to continue their leadership in environmental stewardship and maintain global competitiveness for Canadian agriculture.”

U of G received funding for three projects headed by professors in the Ontario Agricultural College.

This is a significant investment in U of G research, innovation and knowledge mobilization, and one that will help improve life,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research). “All three of these projects focus on protecting our planet, from improving agroforestry practices, to developing crop fertilization methods that reduce emissions, to use of aerial devices to assess soil carbon levels and elevate precision agriculture.”

Environmental sciences professor Naresh Thevathasan, who spoke at today’s event, received nearly $1.7 million to head a multi-university research initiative on riparian buffer plantings – vegetation planted between streams and farms to help prevent surface runoff.

Scientists already know that riparian zones improve water quality. “We want to find out if these zones can also benefit climate change mitigation strategies,” he said.

By studying locations in Ontario and Quebec, Thevathasan and his research team, which also includes the University of Waterloo, University of Toronto and Université de Sherbrooke, hope to strengthen agroforestry research and practices, benefiting farmers and the environment.

Thevathasan said other countries have pursued this research angle, but Canada has only recently considered it as a promising way to fight greenhouse gas emissions.

MP Lloyd Longfield (left) in conversation with Prof. Ralph Martin (centre) and Prof. John Lauzon

Plant agriculture professor Ralph Martin received nearly $380,000 to investigate aerial sensors used to assess soil organic carbon (SOC) levels. Currently, scientists measure SOC levels using soil samples taken from farmers’ fields. Martin hopes to develop a more rapid and cost-effective monitoring method using sensors mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles. His team will assess climate change scenarios and analyze policy options for industry and government.

Environmental sciences professor John Lauzon will use nearly $180,000 to study nitrous oxide (N20) emissions. This study will build on an earlier project on nitrogen losses and manure nitrogen use efficiency, and will involve spring and fall field trials.