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Worrying weather hazards for agriculture and forest fires

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar2,2024

Weather hazards of concern for agriculture and forest fires

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The lack of snow on agricultural land worries the UPA Federation of Bas-Saint-Laurent.

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The lack of snow and the temperature variations observed in recent days are causing headaches for farmers in Bas-Saint-Laurent. Additionally, wildfire risks could be both earlier and higher this year.

Snow cover is too thin to protect farmland.

Our crops will not survive the winter. […] There is no snow to provide protection. It’s certain that it can influence the survival of our meadows, of our fall cereals, explains Nathalie Lemieux, president of the Federation of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Bas-Saint-Laurent. /p>

Snow is an insulator.

A quote by Nathalie Lemieux, president of the Federation of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Bas-Saint-Laurent

The farmer also recalls that the snow, when it melts, supplies the soil with water. If we have two feet of snow, when it melts, that's a large volume of water that can bring to our soils and to our water tables. […] With the fact that there is no water in the soil, our crops risk being more fragile during the summer season.

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The snow cover protects the ground against freezing.

As for temperature differences, they are giving farmers who own livestock buildings a hard time.

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These are radical temperature changes. We think of our animal production, in cattle, in pigsties too. These are temperature differences that we have to control in buildings. It’s not always easy, admits Ms. Lemieux.

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In addition to operating a small sugar bush in Saint-Pascal , Nathalie Lemieux and her partner manage a dairy farm in Saint-André-de-Kamouraska. (File photo)

According to her, the vagaries of the weather contribute to discouraging producers, already undermined by inflation.

Last spring, a survey carried out by the UPA revealed that one in ten farm operators planned to permanently close their doors over the next 12 months.

When we have episodes of drought or excess water like this year, it sure becomes a little demotivating for certain businesses. But it is one factor among all the others, concludes the president of the Federation.

Marie-Christine Rioux's report

The Society for the Protection of Forests Against Fire (SOPFEU) and its meteorologists expect an early spring. And since the snow cover is low, the risk of fire is greater.

If a spring is early [and] we don't have a quantity of water arriving, it can cause forest fires and that can make for good fire seasons, indicates Isabelle Gariépy, prevention and communications officer at SOPFEU.

Spring , this is truly a pivotal period. It can burn very quickly.

A quote from Isabelle Gariépy, SOPFEU prevention and communications officer

The start of the season forest fires could thus be brought forward by a few weeks, believes Ms. Gariépy.

The year 2023 was also that of all records for SOPFEU. According to its director, the area burned in 2023 was higher than the sum of what was burned in Quebec over the last 20 years.

With information from Marie-Christine Rioux

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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