The week of April 17-23 is National Soil Conservation Week this year. As the Soil Conservation Council of Canada says, soil is a big deal. It’s the foundation of agriculture. It’s a precious resource and, as I’ve written before, can easily be lost and degraded.
To mark this week, I wanted to share some resources and stories of farmers who are leading the way on soil stewardship in Ontario.
Did you know that that there is a 12-part video series on soil health in Ontario? The videos, created by Farm and Food Care, feature OMAFRA specialists, farmers and university researchers and focus on topics ranging from organic amendments to soil remediation and subsurface compaction. Most are around five minutes, which makes for easy viewing!
Here is a short video from the series on the value of crop rotation, featuring Dr. Dave Hooker (University of Guelph, Ridgetown) and Anne Verhallen (OMAFRA):
Strip-tillage is an emerging practice that provides soil conservation benefits, as well as labour efficiencies and advantages in fertilizer placement. Farm and Food Care’s six-part video series follows four Ontario strip-till farm families and discusses the keys to getting started, overcoming challenges and understanding the cost of production.
If you’re looking to learn more about one of the farmers, you can also watch a bonus video to hear about their journey into strip-till. Click below to see a profile of Warren and Christine Schneckenburger from Eastern Ontario.
If you prefer written information, you can visit the brand-new website www.bmpbooks.com for a virtual library of Best Management Practice (BMP) books, booklets and infosheets. The award-winning BMP series was designed to help Ontario farmers and rural landowners find the best options for managing soil, water and natural areas on their properties. You’ll find titles such as No-Till for Soil Health, Residue Management, Winter Cover Crops and many more!
Many different organizations have developed unique and effective ways to connect farmers who are passionate about soil health and conservation. One example is the Ontario Soil Network. Its mission is: “Farmers talking to farmers, using the strength of the network to support lasting adoption of sustainable practices, for an environmentally and financially sound future.” To help achieve this mission, Ontario Soil Network developed the Ontario Soil Online Roadtrip App. The app profiles over 100 farmers and shares photos and videos of their innovative soil management practices. You can download it on your smartphone or visit Ontario Soil Network’s Crop Tours page to learn what other farmers are up to around the province.
These are just a few of the examples of resources and on-the-ground action being taken to implement soil conservation in Ontario. They are helping to address the objectives within the Ontario Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy, which provides a roadmap for improved soil conservation through to 2030.
Many of the resources above were funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative.