Canada’s Soils Are in Crisis


As the climate changes, we must radically improve soil health in Canada.


As the climate changes, we must radically improve soil health in Canada.

Healthy soil is the heart of our food system and, by every conceivable measure, we are making our soil sick. In Ontario, soil organic matter—a key determinant of soil health—is now decreasing on 82 per cent of farmland. Since 1948, the soil organic matter in Essex County, in the province’s far south, has declined by more than half on the vast majority of farms. Meanwhile, 54 per cent of farmland across Ontario now has high levels of erosion risk.

These trends are present across Canada. The message, then, is clear: Canada’s soils are in crisis. So, as the federal government gears up to implement a food policy for Canada, soil health must be sufficiently understood and supported.

Maintaining soil health is crucial to both sustainable food and climate systems. Healthy soils have the capacity to maintain their structure and transform and store carbon through decomposition and nutrient cycling, while supporting insects, bacteria, and other biological populations. For soil to sustain food production, conserve our environment, and contribute to climate change mitigation , it must be managed in ways that minimize loss, erosion, and contamination. Instead, though, phosphorous-filled topsoil is being washed downstream and is polluting lakes, rivers, and underground water supplies.


Continue reading at University of Guelph.

Image via University of Guelph.