Editor's Note: Thanks to Terence Hochstein and the Staff of the Potato Growers of Alberta for their support in helping consumers understand where their water comes from, where it goes, and what happens in between! Please share the video below if you care about GMOs in your food! All 3 full-length collaborative videos done with the PGA (including a fantastic cartoon!) are available on You Tube under this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faCVLpoERto&list=PLzNIcbbdC7_8mq2dmTYv78T7UGjx886a1
It's no surprise that irrigation is vital to Alberta's economy. It makes up about 80% of it! Here in Southern Alberta we depend on the Oldman River to withdraw a lot of water to use it for agriculture. We have very rich soil and sunlight but water is another vital element to growing produce and to bring water to the land, irrigation systems have been put in place to draw out the necessary amount of water to sustain the agricultural industry.
Here we are specifically focusing on the potato growing industry which is a large one in Southern Alberta. The Potato Growers of Alberta have looked into efficient technology that have brought huge advantages to watershed health, like the variable rate pivot system. How is it advantageous to our watershed health? They require less water and create less evaporation and only irrigate areas that need it. Other crops (wheat, canola, timothy) are kept in rotation to build organic matter and keep the land from eroding and preserving the health of our watershed.
Some people are concerned GMOs negatively impact our watershed but research has not shown any major differences between GMO crops and non-GMO crops. In fact, GMO crops can have an environmental benefit because they may require less inputs - like pesticides/herbicides or water. Research is ongoing to quantify these benefits - it is difficult to generalize because the level of inputs required varies depending on weather, soil, site charactertistics, etc.
Our Communications Specialist, Anna Garleff, went out to Taber to speak with the Executive Director of the PGA Staff, Terence Hochstein, to enquire about water and the Oldman and whether there are GMOs in the new potatoes. Interview in the video below.
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