Research Developments

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Agriculture and Forestry conducted an assessment of farm-level greenhouse gas emissions and developed a science plan to address knowledge gaps. AF staff have been conducting collaborative research to identify strategies to lower emissions from fertilizer management and livestock production, and identify emission sources in life cycle assessments. Funding from Emissions Reductions Alberta has also helped other research organizations and businesses find new ways of reducing emissions from farm systems in Alberta.

Farm Level Greenhouse Gas Assessment

Agriculture and Forestry and the University of Alberta collaborated with other government, university and agricultural experts to develop a science plan to fill knowledge gaps about greenhouse gas emissions from soils and crops, livestock, energy use, land use and whole farm systems in Alberta.

The resulting Development of a Farm-Level Greenhouse Gas Assessment report prioritized research gaps and identified challenges to collecting information needed by farmers and ranchers. These include the need to accurately reflect net emissions from the wide range of farm enterprises, biophysical regions in Alberta within a reasonable range of error. Constantly changing climate and market conditions add to this challenge.

Staff with Agriculture and Forestry continue to collaborate with university, government and agricultural experts to discover new technologies and practices that will lower emissions. Exciting new potential to lower emissions while improving efficiency is developing in Alberta over a wide range of projects, as highlighted below:


  • Nitrogen management strategies to lower nitrous oxide emissions by increasing the efficiency of nitrogen use by crops has been the focus of a number of collaborative studies in Alberta.
  • Varying fertilizer rates according to management zone characteristics within farm fields has important potential to lower emissions.
  • Studies of high-efficiency fertilizers in different prairie scenarios and crop types are being conducted with the Universities of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
  • Nitrification inhibitors to slow down biological processes that convert nitrogen to nitrous oxides as well as timing of manure additions and plant utilization are also being investigated.
  • Farm-scale verification studies to clarify record requirements to lower emissions from nitrogen fertilizer use have helped to streamline the use of carbon offset protocols.


  • Genetic selection in beef to lower methane emissions by improving feed use efficiency that has also resulted in cost savings.
  • Agriculture and Forestry beef research scientists prepared a series of videos, presentations and factsheets to outline the results of their encouraging work to lower methane emissions by increasing efficiencies.
  • A number of projects that demonstrate technologies and opportunities for methane emission reductions in beef cattle are funded by Emissions Reductions Alberta (ERA).
  • A University of Alberta study to link economic efficiency and emission reductions in dairy operations draws on Dairy Cost Study information collected from dairy producers in Alberta.


  • Research into energy efficiency and renewable energy is helping to inform future programs and initiatives to help farmers and ranchers lower fuel emissions and energy costs.

    Environmental Footprinting

  • Work to characterize net greenhouse gas emissions from life cycle assessments of agricultural production in Alberta is ongoing for beef, chicken, egg, pulse and potato production in collaboration with Agricultural industry partners.

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    For more information about the content of this document, contact Sheilah Nolan.
    This document is maintained by Laura Thygesen.
    This information published to the web on January 9, 2017.
    Last Reviewed/Revised on January 24, 2019.