Healthy soils mean healthy crops
By Diego Flammini, Farms.com
Anyone who understands even a little about agriculture is well aware of the importance of soil when it comes to growing a successful crop.
“Healthy soil is essential for food production, a healthy environment and the long-term sustainability of Ontario agriculture,” said Mark Kunkel, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) in a commentary.
Soils have become such an important aspect of farming and agriculture, that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations deemed 2015 the International Year of Soils.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and OFA are working alongside other agricultural industry groups, government and academic institutions to develop the Agricultural Soil Health Working Group.
The group will communicate and engage with farmers through workshops and public meetings about challenges and possible solutions to soil conservation issues including climate change and current farming practices.
Currently, there are about 4.1 million hectares of prime agricultural land in Ontario – 57% of which was at risk of erosion and 82% that was losing organic matter according to Agriculture and Agri-Food data from 2006. Other research has shown changes in soil quality due to erosion can cause up to 40% yield loss.
Soil health quizzes are available on OMAFRA’s website for farmers who are unsure of their soil quality. The quizzes include plant vigour, soil tilth and soil life as some of the indicators determining soil quality.