Ministère de l'Environnement
et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques


Environmental impact of agricultural activities

The Ministère is committed to supporting the sustainable development of agriculture by targeting the protection of both the quality of the environment and public health.

Although improvements were noted in the most recent Québec Surface Water Quality 1999-2008 (French) and in the Report on the state of water and aquatic ecosystems in Quebec (French), it turns out that water quality continues to be poor in certain watershed where agricultural operations cover major portions of the land. This situation impacts the uses of water and the preservation of biodiversity.

Agriculture affects the environment in a variety of areas, including

Fertilizer use

Fertilizers are commonly used in agriculture to increase the quantity of nutrients in soil (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.). They may be of farm origin (animal manure and other waste), or be purchased from commercial suppliers, or stem from industrial or municipal activities (fertilizing residual materials).

Various agro-environmental practices for farm fertilizer inventory management can reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. Although the Agricultural Operations Regulation or AOR does not impose practices specific to agricultural producers, it does set standards for animal manure and other fertilizer management. To learn more, see the following:

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Waterway contamination

The protection of waterways and the improvement of water quality and aquatic habitats are paramount challenges in agricultural environments. Considerable attention must be given to fertilizer inventory and soil conservation management in order to avoid waterway contamination. Riverbank protection must also be ensured to avoid the impairment of aquatic environments. To learn more, see the following:

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Greenhouse gas emissions

Agriculture contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by enteric fermentation and soil manure management, among other things. The government has implemented financial assistance programs that enable farmers to reduce their GHG emissions. To learn more, see the following:

Biodiversity conservation

The conservation of biodiversity in agricultural environments is crucial for safeguarding ecosystems that are essential to life. Québec agricultural lands are affected by this issue because they are home to large numbers of plant and animal species. Biodiversity conservation also depends on the quality of aquatic habitats. To learn more, see the following:

Pesticide use

Within Québec, agricultural is the heaviest user of pesticides. This is why regulations on the use of pesticides in agricultural environments aim at making sure that producers use them with all necessary diligence and precautions. To learn more, see the following:

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