A new provincial soil strategy will preserve soil health and guide conservation activities for more than a decade.
The “New Horizons: Ontario's Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy” is will contribute to a vibrant agricultural sector, productive economy, sustainable environment and thriving society, said Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal.
The plan is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of collaboration and hard work. “Ontario's agricultural soil is a valuable resource that is worth protecting. Science shows us soil organic carbon is decreasing in many places and risk of erosion is also high in many areas, so we know we must improve soil care. A sustained commitment from the agricultural community, government and other partners is critical to ensuring our soil is healthy and productive for future generations,” the minister says.
The strategy’s summary notes: “Healthy soil is essential for life and is the heart of Ontario farms and our food system. Healthy soil has many economic and environmental benefits including improved crop growth, yield and quality, water and nutrient retention, resilience, biodiversity, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
“Ontario's agricultural soils face challenges to their health and conservation. There is growing evidence that soil organic matter is decreasing in many areas, and there is too much bare soil in winter, and soil at risk of erosion. Also concerning is that tillage is increasing, crop rotations are becoming less diverse, and there is an ongoing shift away from perennial forages to annual crops. The good news is a growing number of farmers are incorporating cover crops. Farmers should be recognized and rewarded for this and other soil care efforts.”
The four themes are soil management, soil data and mapping, soil evaluation and monitoring and soil knowledge and innovation.