BUSINESS IN INTERIOR PLAINS
AVAILABLE LAND SPACE FOR FARMING
The Interior Plains is located towards the west of Canada, located between the Western Cordillera and the Canadian shield. It covers parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The plains make up about 18% of Canada's land. The Interior Plains are generally flat in elevation with some low hills, and contains wetlands. The Interior Plains have many important industries. For example, the mining industry provides jobs for several people living in the region. The main natural resources found in the Plains are oil, natural gas and coal. However, the Interior Plains are most commonly known for the farming industry. The agriculture industry provides people all over the Interior Plains with jobs and contains most of Canada's farmland.
This graph shows the location of the regions of Canada. The Interior Plains are coloured in orange.
Although most of the land with suitable farming conditions has been occupied, more land that is convenient for farming has been discovered in the southern parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, recently. Owning farming land has many advantages, such as, self-employment and control over business choices. Some fear the risk of their crops not growing due to unsuitable surroundings, but the Interior Plains offers some of the most convenient conditions for agricultural industries.
For agriculture growth, the climate plays a big role as there needs to be warm summers and enough rainfall for crops to grow. The climate in the Plains is very diverse. The weather towards the north is significantly different than the weather towards the south. In the northern parts of the Interior Plains the winters are long and cold. The summers are short and cool. However, in the southern part where most of the farming happens, the winters are cold and summers are long and hot. The hot summers are good for farming because for crops to grow there needs to be a lot of sunlight. The Interior Plains are further away from oceans so they receive less precipitation compared to provinces closer to water. For instance, Vancouver, which is close to the ocean, receives 57.3 inches (1457 mm) of rainfall yearly, whereas, Calgary gets about 16.5 inches (419 mm). Due to the lack of precipitation in the Plains it can have a negative impact on crops. To make up for this the Interior Plains have an aquifer system which provides water.
In these three graphs we can see that each province does not experience harsh winters and has hot summers. The graphs also portray the amount of precipitation each province gets on average. By looking at these graphs we can notice that the highest amount of precipitation ranges from 70-90 mm, mainly during the months of June and July. The amount of precipitation in winter and fall ranges from 15-20 mm which is very low.
Towards the northern part of the Interior Plains it is flat and treeless. It is covered in dwarf shrubs, sedges and herbs. This area is not suitable for farming as the subsoil is permanently frozen. The northern parts of the Plains contains many coniferous and evergreen trees. These trees don't shed many needles, therefore, the layer that contains the humus is very little. The southern part of the Interior Plains is covered mainly in different types of grass which can sometimes grow very tall. Most of the grasses that grow there consist of Porcupine, Bluestem and June. Several different crops are grown in this region, such as, wheat, barely, flax, oats, canola, mustard, potatoes, corn and sugar beets.
Farming requires great quality of soil which the Interior Plains offers. The region's fertile soil was formed due to glaciation. When the glaciers melted it formed a large lake. The lake caused the water to rise, thus, the water drained to the ocean. The bottom of the lake was plastered in sediments and the former lake developed into a flat land. Soil had developed over the sediments and was rich. Due to the glaciation, fertile soil was formed, which has made the Interior Plains a great region for farming.
The Interior Plains mainly contains sedimentary rocks. These sedimentary rocks were formed millions of years ago. A long time ago the Plains were covered in shallow seas in which sediments from the Canadian Shield and Rocky Mountains were deposited. Over a long period these sediments gradually built up and then compacted together to form sedimentary rocks. These sedimentary rocks are beneficial to the agriculture industry since they have provided fertile soils.
The Interior Plains may face many changes in its climate over the years, some that may positively and negatively affect the farming industry. The weather in the Plains has been gradually warming up. In the past 30 years, the northern parts have seen the weather rise during the winter. The weather has been expected to continue rising, specifically for the southern parts of the Interior Plains. Moreover, the risk for heat extremes and droughts will increase due to the warmer climate, which may affect the appropriateness of crops such as, wheat, barely and corn. Northern areas may receive more precipitation, whereas, southern areas may receive fewer rainfall. This has both a positive and negative impact because the northern parts of the Plains may have suitable conditions for farming in the future, but the southern parts may not.
Impact On Agriculture
- Decreases in organic carbon in soil
- Decreases in moisture of soil and water availability
- Growth of weeds due to high temperatures and lack of precipitation
- More farming in northern parts of the Plains
In this video, farmers discuss the agriculture industry in Alberta. They share the types of variety of crops grown there, and how farming is beneficial to the economy and themselves. The video states that Alberta, alone, exports $8 billion in agricultural products, which shows how successful the farming industry is in the the Interior Plains. They also share how the products grown come from a clean and reliable environment. In this video we can see how countries such as, China and Japan rely heavily on crops grown in the Plains. We also see how Canada's agriculture industry continues to grow
Risk Of Natural Disasters
The Plains don't experience many natural disasters, but there have been many occurrences of droughts. These droughts occur due to the lack of precipitation which causes drier climate. Southern parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and to some extent southern Manitoba are the most prone to droughts. The amount of droughts in this region may not reduce as the temperatures will continue to rise and the precipitation levels may be even lower in the future. This causes a risk to the agriculture industry as droughts lead to soil erosion and plants need precipitation to survive. If the droughts continue to happen it could put the farming industry at risk.
In this picture we can see that Alberta and Saskatchewan are the main provinces in which droughts occur due to lower levels of precipitation compared to the rest of the provinces.
Although, the Interior Plains are not perfect it still remains an ideal region for farming. Even though there is not a lot of rainfall, the region does have an aquifer system to provide water for crops. The Plains have long warm summers and fertile soil. Therefore, the Interior Plains does have suitable conditions for farming and will not disappoint.
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