Session FT 4.01
Environmentaly sustainable agriculture and water quality
Agriculture & Agri-Food, Canada
National Water Research Center, Egypt
International Water Management Institute
The session examined how different farm management practices can prevent the degradation of water quality and examined the different approaches which are used to encourage farmer utilization of practices that protect water quality, and hence the environment. Examples from Mexico, Canada, and the US were used to illustrate the effectiveness of incentives and practices in different climates and different sized agricultural systems.
- A “portfolio” approach to conservation policy provides the flexibility needed to address agri-environmental issues effectively.
- Technical assistance is not an accessory to financial assistance programs, rather, it makes financial assistance programs and regulations effective and scientifically sound.
- An important lesson from our experiences is that success depends on a strong research component that provides conservation practices for addressing a wide range of water issues across many different climate, crop, and resource conditions.
- Having an overarching framework contributes to the coordination of water conservation policies, where relationships between institutions and society become a key factor to assuring success in the implementation process.
- Successful local actions are established by people with common goals, through the building of partnerships and teams which may contain very different groups, depending on the nature of the problem and the situation. Effective teams need a core of committed leaders for long-term success. Real changes in the agricultural landscape can only be implemented by agricultural producers. It is important that producers are able to see the linkages between environmental and economic objectives. Successful local actions depend on clearly-defined goals, realistic workplans, and recognition of successes.
- We need to greatly expand research and education on the social, economic, and behavioural considerations that impact water resources management. The unique character of watersheds will require close coordination and collaboration among our three nations to effectively manage water resources. We need to unravel the cumulative impacts of land uses. Future efforts in research and education must adopt a “whole-systems approach” to nitrogen management across North America and need to reconnect water quality and quantity components holistically.
Local Actions presented
The role of Research in Providing a Foundation for Agricultural Practices to Protect Water Quality
Richard Butts, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
This review examines the current state of knowledge of the benefits of different farm management practices in North America on water quality and examines the shortcomings within the knowledge base at different space scales. The review addresses the need for education and the impediments to the application of knowledge gained through research.
Evaluation of Agricultural Policies for Protection of Water Quality
Thomas Christensen, US Department of Agriculture
This review identifies different policy instruments (ranging from education to regulation) available to policy makers in North America and reviews which policies could be used more effectively to ensure sustainable use of water resources for protection of the environment.
North American Examples of Successful Watershed Projects
Clint Hilliard, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada & Teresa Yarza, Center for Education and Training, SEMARNAT
Case studies of successful agricultural adaptations from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. are examined to identify the common elements that make watershed protection projects successful. The cases focus on practrices that help protect water quality.