Sustainability of Canadian Agriculture Virtual Conference 2022


Photo credit: Emma McGeough

This online conference provides practical information and considers the future of our agricultural production systems as we strive to further develop sustainable food systems. The three-day conference offers a hands-on interactive morning workshop on the Holos model designed to better understand and effectively estimate on farm greenhouse gas emissions. Three separate sessions each day will feature brief presentations followed by facilitated panel discussions addressing how we can redesign our food systems, forge the road to carbon neutrality and manage agriculture production from a broad land perspective to achieve sustainability in agriculture.

This conference is intended for a diverse audience. The aim is to bring together researchers, students, producers, government, commodity organizations and industry representatives with a range of perspectives to collectively share ideas and experiences about how to improve agricultural sustainability in Canada.

The three days will provide opportunities to explore novel ideas and concepts, including an exciting session with graduate students who will share their research through short videos.

Registration is required to attend this free conference - register today!


Conference Planning Committee

University of Manitoba: Kim Ominski, Christine Rawluk, Emma McGeough,
Doug Cattani, Marcos Cordeiro, Mario Tenuta, David Lobb, Peter Frohlich
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Roland Kroebel, Sarah Pogue, Aaron McPherson
Ducks Unlimited Canada: Kristine Tapley
Industry/Farm Production: Melissa Atchison

Conference Hosts





Schedule at a Glance

Day AM Workshops PM Presentations
March 16, 2022 Keynote Speaker - David Kanter
CCA CEU's: Nutrient Management (0.5), Crop Management (0.5)

Food systems redesign: What are the opportunities?
CCA CEU's: Nutrient Management (2.0), Soil and Water Management (0.5)

March 17, 2022

Holos model workshop
CCA CEU's: Nutrient Management (2.0), Soil and Water Management (0.5)

Road to Carbon Neutrality
CCA CEU's: Crop Management (1.0), Soil and Water Management (1.0)

March 18, 2022  

Managing from a landscape perspective
CCA CEU’s: Crop Management (1.0), Soil and Water Management (1.0)




Day 1 - Wednesday March 16, 2022


9:00 am CT Welcoming Remarks
Kim Ominski and Roland Kroebel, Co-chairs

9:00-10:00 am Keynote Speaker
Dr. David Kanter, NYU
Leveraging the agri-food system for a post-carbon world

The current toolbox of environmental policy instruments in the agricultural sector is woefully inadequate for transitioning to a post-carbon agri-food system. This keynote will focus on two crucial changes that need to occur: the first is shifting the regulatory burden away from farmers towards other actors in the agri-food chain that can influence farm-level behavior. This could transform the non-point pollution problems that constitute agriculture’s environmental footprint into a series of more tractable point-source approaches. The second is more visibility into the trade-offs and synergies of transitioning to a post-carbon agri-food system, i.e. what are the implications for the Sustainable Development Goals and their successor(s)? This talk will explore these questions through the lens of two ongoing projects: the first is Governing Nutrient Pollution Beyond Farmers, which aims to design a new governance framework for nutrient pollution that would go hand-in-hand with a broader transition towards a post-carbon economy. The second is the Sustainable Agriculture Matrix: the first integrated decision-support tool to help policymakers understand the implications of different agricultural management and policy choices in the context of the SDGs.

Food systems redesign: What are the opportunities?

10:15-10:45 am Day 1 Student video competition entries: Student Videos Competition
10:45-11:45 am Food systems redesign: What are the opportunities?
  • Tim Crews
    Redesigning grain agriculture with perennality and diversity

    All of the cereals and pulses that farmers grow, and most of the oilseed crops are annuals, meaning they complete their lifecycles in months rather than years, and require replanting with every crop. This approach to agriculture is almost synonymous with agriculture itself, as it has defined the way diverse agricultural societies have obtained nutrition for millennia. It contrasts with almost all natural ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, savannahs, tundra and deserts which are dominated by perennial vegetation that lives for years, decades or even centuries. To grow annual crops, it is necessary to clear competing vegetation to allow crop seedlings to establish. Many indigenous farmers around the world have demonstrated how annual crop agriculture can be sustainable when clearing vegetation is restricted in scale, and to specific parts of the landscape such as floodplains. However, as annual cropping has expanded across some 10% of ice-free land, serious soil and ecosystem degradation has resulted, including erosion, loss of soil organic matter (carbon), and leaching and runoff of nutrients into aquatic ecosystems. Is it time to reconsider our approach to growing grains? Work is underway at The Land Institute in Kansas, at the University of Manitoba, and at many other research institutions around the world to redesign agriculture to feature perennality and diversity--two of the key features that helped natural ecosystems build the soils we currently farm.

  • Emily Missyabit McAuley
    Support for Indigenous food systems at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

    Indigenous food systems in Canada have been disrupted by multiple government interventions. At the same time, Indigenous communities have been subjected to extractive research practices while Indigenous sciences have been disregarded and devalued by western science and society. However, Indigenous knowledge systems, methodologies, and Peoples possess significant innovation potential and have been learning from and stewarding food systems in North America since time immemorial. Indigenous food systems often involve ecosystem-level knowledge and maintenance of endemic plants and animals, and are inextricably intertwined with local cultural and social traditions. The species and practices used are locally adapted to the ecosystems, climates, topographies and waterways found in North America. Learn what Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is doing to support Indigenous innovation and the revitalization of Indigenous food systems.

  • Christian Delporte, Saskia Reutter and Michelle Finley
    Integration of local plant-based food processing co-products in Manitoba livestock feeding. Example with Roquette Canada Pea Cream at Reutter Dairy Farm MB.

    In November 2020, Roquette started operations at the world's largest pea protein plant, located just outside Winnipeg in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The region produces more peas than any other in the world, all within a day's drive of the plant. Demand for pea protein has been increasing with multiple industry estimates expecting an annual global growth rate between 15 and 24 percent over the next decade.

    The plant is also well positioned geographically to ensure a local market for Pea Cream, a new-to-Canada liquid livestock feed. The product is a mix of wet pea pulp/concentrated pea soluble and is a sustainable way to use the co-products from Roquette's pea protein isolate production process.

    Pea Cream offers dairy and livestock producers local, sustainable feed that may reduce impact from supply chain interruptions and weather events.

    Included in the presentation is valuable insight and video from Saskia Reutter, owner/operator of Reutter Dairy who has integrated Pea Cream into their day to day operations.

    The presentation also includes background on Roquette's decision to locate its new plant in Manitoba and the nutritional and sustainability benefits of Pea Cream.

11:45-12:30 pm Panel Discussion
12:30 pm Adjourn

Day 2 - Thursday March 17, 2022

Road to Carbon Neutrality

9:00-12:00 am Farming for sustainable food systems and Holos workshop

Participants will have the opportunity to join a workshop where we will have a hands-on training & demonstration of the Holos 4 modelling software.

Training will consist of short demonstrations of the Holos software (5-10 minutes each), followed by short pauses (5-10 minutes) with audience members repeating what was demonstrated on their computers.

Aaron McPherson (AAFC), Sarah Pogue (AAFC), and Roland Kroebel (AAFC) will be available to assist during the training.

Training will be 3 hours in length, and there will be 3 short bio-breaks during this time.

A training guide and instructions on how to install the software will be sent out a couple of weeks before the conference starts.

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch
1:00–1:45 pm Day 2 Student video competition entries: Student Videos Competition
1:45-2:45 pm Road to carbon neutrality
  • Mario Tenuta
    Road to Carbon Neutrality: A Research Perspective.

    Achieving carbon neutrality in agricultural production requires a near wholesale change in the fundamental structure of our food production system. The challenges of greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy use, and improved production efficiencies will be considered in this discussion. Some major technological and knowledge requirements on the road to carbon neutrality will be proposed and discussed. It is hoped the discussion will engage audience participation and contributions.

  • David Rourke
    A Road to Fossil Fuel Free Farming and Net Negative

    I will talk about my journey which caused me to write the book, A Road to Fossil Fuel Free Farming, an example and a challenge, a bit about the book. I will continue with some of the ongoing changes we are making at the farm to be Net Negative. How we will be using the principles from regenerative agriculture and agroecology, transforming them into Zero Till Plus practices; looking for and incorporating Green substitutes for N fertilizer and diesel fuel; all the while ensure we are using sustainable intensification of remaining inputs to optimize crop output and profitability. We firmly believe in the principle, If there is no money, there is no business and further if there is no future hospitable environment, nothing else matters. I will end with a short discussion of how doing the PhD is expanding my knowledge, tools and network to help take the Net Negative concept and practices to the bigger stage.

  • Alex Stuart
    Funding Agriculture's decarbonization through carbon offsets

    Ag producers are uniquely positioned to benefit from rising carbon prices. Work is currently underway to develop cost-benefit analyses for a wide variety of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction practices in the agricultural sector. The most promising is paying farmers to implement 4R practices, and to use cover and intercrops as a means of sequestering carbon using root systems. This presentation will provide a high-level overview of the carbon markets, how carbon offsets are created, and opportunities in the agriculture sector to participate.

2:45 – 3:00 pm Break
3:00 – 3:45 pm Panel Discussion
3:45 – 4:30 pm Q & A With Researchers and a virtual "Barley Sandwich"
4:30 pm Adjourn

Day 3 - Friday March 18, 2022

Managing from a landscape perspective

1:00-1:45 pm Day 3 Student video competition entries and voting: Student Video Competition
1:45-2:45 pm Managing from a landscape perspective
  • David Lobb
    The need for a landscape approach in managing farms to achieve sustainability
    Click the image to view the presentation
    David Lobb presentation - The need for a landscape approach in managing farms to achieve sustainability
    Photo by David Lobb

    In managing an agricultural operation, it is necessary to view the farm as a landscape, with each facet of that landscape having different requirements and risks for production. This complexity presents several challenges in achieving economic and environmental sustainability. In this talk, these challenges are addressed and recommendations provided, with the goal of enhancing management and, equally important, enhancing research and development, and policy and programming.

  • Janine Paly
    Farming in a marginal landscape: Finding value in natural capital

    Managing marginal areas can be a challenge as economic returns are lower and the land is often of poor soil quality or has undesirable characteristics. In this engaging session, Janine will share her own farm’s experience, identify management practices that put the power of nature-based solutions to work, and explores helpful strategies from Ducks Unlimited Canada. Learn how to tap into agricultural diversity to make every acre count!

  • Duane Thompson
    My Thoughts on a Sustainable Production System

    My name is Duane Thompson, a man of the dirt. I’ve learned from three generations before me and take the role of fostering and working with the two coming behind me very seriously. Our system management approach of annual crops, perennial forages, cows and feedlot is not uncommon but certainly not as mainstream as it was 50 yrs ago. A combination of academia, market forces and today’s lifestyle expectations have all led to this. The greatest concern of agriculture is the loss of the precious topsoil. This has been somewhat reduced with new farming methods and technology and I am happy to report our system has resulted in increased levels of organic matter, up to 2+ fold for the average of our area. There has never been a time that food producers have had to justify and explain what they do as we do now. In a very short period, we have gone from most people having a solid connection with where their food came from to just 2% producing food for the other 98%. I believe that a well managed mixed enterprise production system can be a profitable, a carbon sink and provide a valuable ecosystem for nature.

2:45-3:00 pm Break
3:00-3:45 pm Panel Discussion
3:45-4:15 pm Wrap up and Concluding Remarks
4:15 pm Adjourn
Open mike and a virtual "Barley Sandwich" - optional