Putting Soil Health First
A Climate-Smart Idea for Ontario
On November 15, 2016, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario released a report, Putting Soil Health First: A Climate-Smart Idea for Ontario.
Modern agriculture has been a great success at feeding the world, but the environmental price has been very high. Now there is an exciting opportunity to both feed ourselves efficiently and to protect the natural world - by rebuilding soil health, soil ecosystems and soil organic matter. Rebuilding carbon levels in Ontario agricultural soils can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, enhance our ability to adapt to climate changes, and reduce the overall environmental footprint of modern agriculture - all while sustaining or increasing yields and profitability.
This report describes the basic science behind the soil health approach and outlines its main principles and practices. It also draws on the example of several successful soil health practitioners, including two farms that are leading the way here in Ontario. It outlines both the benefits of a soil health focus and the challenges faced by farmers adopting its methods. It calls on the Ontario government to lead in taking this new approach from its current status of leading-edge innovation to where it needs to be - the new normal.