‘Soil is not just dirt,” the chair of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada reminds event attendees
By Evan Karigianis
Soil conservation dignitaries discussed the importance of maintaining soil health at Elora Research Station’s world-class Soil Health Interpretive Centre on July 23.
Rob Black, an Ontario senator, Alan Kruszel, the chair of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC), John Poel, Heartland’s Soil and Crop president, and Rene Van Acker, dean of the Agricultural Ontario College, attended the event.
Rob Black, Alan Kruszel, Rene Van Acker and John Poel shortly before burying their 100% cotton briefs.
As part of the annual Soil Your Undies campaign, each soil VIP buried a pair of underwear. The group will return in two months to unearth the buried briefs and check their level of decomposition. Kruszel invites other Ontario residents to participate in the interactive campaign to learn more about soil health.
“There’s been an excellence response to the campaign – we have had interest from across the country and across the world,” Kruszel said. “There’s been participation from schools, 4-H clubs, horticultural groups ... we want the general public to begin thinking about the soil.”
How to participate
1) Dig a narrow trench and bury the underwear in the top six inches of soil
2) Leave the waistband showing a little and mark the place with a flag so you’ll be able to find it again
3) Leave the underwear buried for about two months
4) Dig it up carefully and wash it in a bucket of water to remove the soil
If only a small amount of the underwear remaining after two months in the ground, it indicates healthy soil composition.
If the field has poor biological activity, the briefs will show few signs of decomposition.
To improve the soil health of fields, you can follow three fundamental pillars, said Poel.
First, keeping a living root system throughout the year and planting cover crops will significantly improve the biological activity of soil.
“The cover crops exude carbohydrates for the soil microbes to feed on. If you don’t give them anything to eat, they won’t survive,” he said.
Second, utilizing no till or conservation till methods will slow soil degradation. Farmers who implement no till or limit their tillage will see improvements in soil absorption, retention of organic material and soil biological fertility.
Soil compaction is the third pillar. This issue is difficult to deal with and the farmer must address it based on his or her system of farming, Poel said.
If you would like to know more about the Soil Your Undies campaign, visit: www.soilcc.ca/soilsweek/2018/soilsweek2018.php.