New Soil Health Program Will Improve Profits for Ontario Farmers, Boost Sustainability for the Region
Free Greenbelt Foundation-Led Program Provides One-on-One Support for Participating Farmers
TORONTO, June 8, 2023 — The Greenbelt Foundation is providing Ontario farmers the opportunity to measure and evaluate the impact of different beneficial management practices (BMPs) on soil health. Through a regionally unique Soil Health Testing Program, the Foundation and the US-based Soil Health Institute will advance soil health assessment and management across Ontario, improving profits for farmers, boosting the strength of local food systems, and furthering Ontario’s ecological sustainability goals.
The Greenbelt Foundation is providing Ontario farmers the opportunity to measure and evaluate the impact of different beneficial management practices (BMPs) on soil health."
This program will implement an innovative, scalable method for evaluating and tracking improvements in soil health. The soil health indicators measured will include organic carbon concentration, carbon mineralization potential, aggregate stability, permanganate-oxidizable carbon, and available water holding capacity. These indicators represent a range of soil health outcomes, including increased nutrient cycling capacity, microbial activity, and resistance to erosion. The program will draw on farmer-to-farmer social networks to share technical agronomic knowledge about implementing soil health systems.
“Farmers know that healthy soils are key to productivity, while having the added benefits of supporting biodiversity and ecosystem health,” says Jenny Bower, Research Soil Scientist at the Soil Health Institute. “But farmers can only manage what they can measure. This program enables farmers to measure soil health improvement associated with changes in management practices.”
The Program aims to sample 300 to 500 farms in the Golden Horseshoe region. Once sampling is completed, participating farmers will receive customized soil health reports to compare soil health in their fields to similar soils in their region. The program will provide farmers with one-on-one support from experts, helping them to set goals, overcome barriers and get on course to build healthy, productive soils.
“Agriculture in the Greenbelt contributes $4.1 billion each year to Ontario’s economy, and provides over 60,000 full-time jobs,” explains Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “But like everywhere, our farmers face challenges from development, climate change, rising production costs, and deteriorating soil health. This program provides farmers with the tools and support they need to improve their soil’s health, boost their yields and margins, and maintain their place as the cornerstone of Ontario’s regional economy.”
This program is a collaborative effort among the Greenbelt Foundation, the Soil Health Institute, and several Ontario agricultural organizations, including Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Soils at Guelph, Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Association, and Conservation Ontario. This project is funded and supported by the Weston Family Foundation’s Soil Health Initiative and the Government of Ontario.
Calling all Grain and oilseed farmers in the Golden Horseshoe region to apply now for free soil health sampling and assessment to know what BMP’s are best for your farm. Eligibility is open to Golden Horseshoe farmers, within and beyond the Greenbelt boundaries. Sampling will take place in Hamilton, Halton, and Peel in 2023, followed by sampling in Niagara, York, and Durham in 2024. More information about the project can be found here.
To read the full project backgrounder, click here.
About Greenbelt Foundation
The Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural and economic systems to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario’s Greenbelt is one of the world’s largest with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water and a reliable local food source. greenbelt.ca.
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Greenbelt Foundation Media Contact
(416) 960-0001 Extension 311
About the Soil Health Institute
The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. We bring together leaders in soil health science and the industry to help farmers, ranchers, and landowners adopt soil health systems that build drought resilience, stabilize yield, and benefit their bottom line. The Institute’s team of scientists, holding doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, has developed highly effective soil health targets and standardized measurements to quantify progress at achieving regenerative and sustainable agricultural systems, and leads the cutting-edge fields of carbon sequestration and decoding the soil microbiome. Healthy soils are the foundation for rejuvenating our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help agriculture and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale.