Ontario has a new strategy to help ensure the province’s agricultural soils remain healthy and productive for years to come.
The Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Working Group worked for over two years to develop and hone the New Horizons: Ontario’s Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. The working group sought input from experts drawn from provincial farm organizations, agri-food businesses, conservation organizations, the research community and government.
The strategy provides a long-term framework to guide collaborative soil health research, investments and activities until 2030. There are four theme areas to address the different aspects: Soil Management, Soil Data and Mapping, Soil Evaluation and Monitoring and Soil Knowledge and Innovation.
The goal of the soil management theme is “Soil management practices sustain and enhance soil health and productivity for economic, environmental and societal needs.” Some of the actions include the supporting the adoption of soil best management practices and providing incentives for soil care practices.
“Reliable soil data and tools are available to allow for informed decision-making and analysis by producers, industry, government and the public.” is the goal of the soil data and mapping theme. Actions include modernizing Ontario’s soil maps and inventory and making better use of precision agriculture data.
The goal of the soil evaluation and monitoring theme is “The health and status of Ontario’s agricultural soils are tracked over time.” Some of the actions are to increase the capacity to track farm scale soil health with new tools for farmers and developing provincial-scale measures of success during implementation.
“Soil knowledge and skills are optimized to meet societal and economic needs and drive innovation.” Actions include support a long-term collaborative soil research agenda and diversify learning approaches available to farmers.
This is an Ontario designed strategy. The implementation and long term monitoring of its effectiveness will be monitored by soil health partners and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Please take some time to read the document or at least the executive summary and think about how you or your organization can help to support and implement the goals of the soil health strategy.