Agriculture in the Interior Plains

by Mansi Mehta

Agriculture as a Business

Agriculture is one of the most important businesses in our growing world. Whether food is being imported from other countries here to Canada, or we grow the food ourselves, Canada benefits greatly from the agricultural business in an economic sense. I do believe that opening an agricultural business in the Northern Interior Plains will be a great investment to Canada, and in the next few minutes I will explain exactly why.

Where, exactly?

You may be wondering where exactly this business would be located. The simple answer is: the Northern part of the Interior Plains ( Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan). Since there are many existing agriculture businesses in this region of Canada, I knew establishing another business in the area would not work. In the past, this Northern part of Canada would be extremely unsuitable for farming. But, because of environmental factors such as climate change, this area is more accessible and approachable than ever before (and I plan to take advantage of this!).

Physical Features

For the purpose of this business project, I will be discussing 4 physical features in relation to the Interior Plains. These four features are: climate, natural landscape, vegetation and soil, and the geology.

CLIMATE - The climate of the Interior Plains largely depends on the area. Down South, summers are hotter, AND longer, while winters are short and cold. There is very little precipitation in the South. But, since I plan to open my business in the Northern area, let's talk about the climate in that location. Up North, winters are longer and summers are short and cool. Since there is not an excessive amount of precipitation in this region of Canada, plants can grow without drowning in snow and/or rain. The map below shows the annual mean temperature of Canada from 1950-2000. I have also highlighted the general area of the Interior Plains, to show how much the climate differs from the South to the North.

Annual Mean Temperature Map, Canada 1950-2000

NATURAL LANDSCAPE - The Interior Plains are mainly a grassland, so the ground is fairly flat. There are, although, various elevations of the plains. The elevation generally goes downwards from the west to the east. The height changes from about 600 m to 1500 m above sea level. Since there aren't too many hills, and the ground is not very rocky, this region is very suitable for farming.

VEGETATION AND SOIL - As with the climate, the vegetation of the Interior Plains greatly varies according to the area. The high Northern area is Tundra,  treeless, and where the ground is nearly frozen. Down South, there are deciduous and evergreen trees. Despite these differences, there is one thing that is common to the entire Interior Plains region: grasslands. Tall grasses provide a sort of "shelter" for soil, protecting the soil from threats such as erosion and prevents the soil from drying out. On top of this, the topsoil in the Interior Plains can be up to a meter deep. This is good, as topsoil is rich in organic matter, which helps crops to grow. Overall, grasslands provide a healthy environment for crops to grow.

Interior Plains

GEOLOGY - The Interior Plains are covered in sedimentary rock. What do sedimentary rocks in a region mean? That there was once water in the region. True to this, about 500 million years ago, this region of Canada was covered in shallow seas. Sedimentary rocks are formed when sediments (created by weathering and erosion) get washed downstream into rivers and other bodies of water. Layers upon layers are deposited, when finally, due to pressure, sedimentary rocks are formed. Sedimentary rocks are typically very weak and brittle.

Human Activities - Farming
Influence of Climate Change

The Interior Plains are the perfect region for farming. As I explained before, the soil is rich in organic matter and nutrients, which promote healthy crops. Because of climate change, the Northern part of the Interior Plains is now also available for agriculture. Hotter weather and more sun equals healthy, full-grown crops and other vegetation.Canada is getting warmer and warmer everywhere, as seen on the graph below. The graph displays how much higher/lower Canada's average temperature was, in regards to the "normal" temperature (per year). As seen on the graph, the temperature just keeps getting warmer and warmer. This climate change makes previously inaccessible areas available for new things. Sure, we may not be able to start an agricultural business in the North right this moment, but at the rate the Earth is warming, that day won't be far. Although global warming may bring more harm than good, farming in the North is one of the positive things that come with climate change.

Annual National Temperature departures and long-term trend, 1948 - 2012

Climate Change is Good for Agriculture

By clicking the button below, you can listen to a man named Vikram Mansharamani talk about how climate change can be GOOD for Canadian agriculture.

In short, this man explains how Canada has lots of land to offer and that can be valuable for farming. If it is hotter, not only can plants grow healthier, but the growing season will also be longer. This business will also help Canada economically.

Natural Disasters

Tornadoes are a big problem in Alberta and other parts of the Interior Plains. As seen in the map below, the Interior Plains are the areas of Canada where tornadoes are most common. This can be harmful to the crops, as they can get blown away. The soil can also get eroded, not allowing crops to grow. Countless other damaging effects come from tornadoes and other storms, which is never good for any outdoor activities, let alone farming. The good news is, tornadoes are nowhere near as common in Northern Interior Plains as the Southern area.

The video below, simply titled "Tornado" features a video by a person encountered with a tornado in Alberta. The description reads "Going to Alberta, a tornado appeared RIGHT in front of us... ". This shows how easily tornadoes can start and how dangerous they can be.

Now it's Your Choice!

I really believe that an agricultural business in the Northern Interior Plains will benefit Canada in more ways than one. We have all this land, we should put it to good use! Because of climate change, this can now become a possibility and NOT only a dream. Let's use our country to it's full potential, let's create a new business in an area which was never imaginable to be used. I have proven that my business will benefit Canada. The only way to see if this will work is to make it happen!


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