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Federal government and Ontario government announce Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship

Federal government and Ontario government announce Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship

Initiative will help Ontario farmers maintain soil health

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

Soil is one of, if not the most important tool a farmer needs when planting their fields. In an effort to help Ontario farmers maintain soil health and promote environmental conservation initiatives, the Ontario and federal governments announced the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship.

The joint effort is a $4 million investment over the next four years.

The funds will target the Lake Erie Basin and Lake Huron near the southeast shore to be used in a variety of ways including identifying methods of improving soil health, reducing fun-off, improving pollinator habitat, addressing risks related to manure application and modifying equipment accordingly and implement management practices for soil erosion and cover crops.

“Ontario farmers are investing in the future of agriculture and the sustainability of our province’s diverse ecosystem,” said Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Since 2005, Ontario farmers have completed more than 23,500 on-farm environmental improvement projects. This initiative helps the federal and provincial governments build on their work and makes a collaborative effort towards future improvements in soil health and environmental stewardship.”

Part of the program will also include demonstration farms, training and education practices.

“We see the nutrient issues facing Great Lakes water quality and recognize that voluntary actions in agriculture should be part of the solution Farm families have a strong track record of committing to learn about environmental practices and contributing considerable effort to introduce necessary change,” said Alan Kruszel, President of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

Soil health has been under the spotlight in 2015 as the United Nations declared the year as the International Year of Soils. The Soil Science Society of America is putting out videos each month about soil’s different impacts. February’s theme is “Soils Support Urban Life”.