FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2018
ERIN SOIL HEALTH COALITION LAUNCHES WITH FARMER FORUM
One-year pilot project will bring farmers in Erin together with citizen scientist volunteers to improve soil health
Erin – The Soil Health Coaltion is bringing together dozens of Erin farmers to launch a collaborative pilot program to improve soil health and water quality in the Greenbelt. With funding support from the Greenbelt Foundation, the Soil Health Coalition is inviting farmers to work with one another to share their knowledge of soil management approaches and measure results.
“The Soil Health Coalition is unique because we’re using outcome-based measurements and not offering any one approach up as a best practice over others,” says Ruth Knight, Project Co-ordinator for the Soil Health Coalition. “We are looking to farmers to share was has worked in their experience. It’s a farmer-driven approach with an opportunity for the community to be involved as volunteers.”
Soil is one of the highest priority issues globally and locally for climate change mitigation and a sustainable food system. Soil health is essential to the long-term viability of farming – and our food system – and to local water quality and quantity. Increasing soil carbon not only removes carbon from the atmosphere, but also increases agricultural yields, improves flood mitigation and reduces run-off into water systems.
While the project will be informed by soil management expertise, the objective is to take a “soil first” approach that leads with experience. Some examples of possible pilot activites include: changes in tillage practices; incorporating cover crops; diversifying cover crops; intergrating livestock and managing grazing to build soil carbon; and retirement of sensitive lands from farming for conversion to forests, meadows and wetlands, supported by the Conservation Authority.
“This project is based around building networks and recognizing the shared benefits of improved soil health for the agricultural economy, the environment, and the community,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “We expect that the results of this pilot will be useful to other agricultural communities in the Greenbelt and across Ontario in both strenghtening rural economies and increasing climate resilience.”
In addition to forming knowledge-sharing groups among farmers, the pilot will train citizen-scientist volunteers who will visit participating farms and conduct soil testing. The tests will measure soil carbon and water infiltration, with the Soil Health Coalition aiming to help identify management practices that improve soil health and water quality and build reslience in the face of climate changes.
About the Greenbelt:
Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution for fresh air, clean water, and a thriving economy with healthy local food and active outdoor recreation. At 2 million acres, it’s the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, and wetlands safe and secure. The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation works to help keep farmers successful, strengthen local economies, protect natural features, and promote sustainable growth. Learn more at greenbelt.ca.
About the Erin Soil Health Coaltion:
The Soil Health Coalition is a group of hard working citizens, farmers and organiztions from Erin area dedicated to transforming Erin into a community that makes a positive impact on soil health and water quality. Taking advantage of the tremendous opportunity for regenerative agriculture to sequester carbon, these efforts can lead the community in adapting to climate change and leave productive soils for future generations.
Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
Office: (416) 960-0001, ext. 306
Mobile: (647) 834-5657