By Connor Lynch
NAPANEE — Ontario’s draft soil strategy, released in November, has been a long time coming, said an Ontario farmer and soil advocate.
The winner of this year’s soil champion award from the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Eric Kaiser, told Farmers Forum that the province’s soil plan is the kind of leadership that Ontario needed.
Kaiser, a poultry, egg, and cash crop farmer southwest of Napanee, said that the historical stance of the government when it comes to soil has been cautious and generic. “They tend to want to be all things to all people in agriculture. They don’t want to offend the farmers who aren’t being more soil-conscious, who aren’t following no-till or at least doing conservation practices,” he said.
Though Kaiser is no stranger to the costs of conserving soil, having gone through them himself, he said that there is still too much tillage being done in Ontario that doesn’t need to be done. “You can’t grow organic matter doing tillage,” and building up organic matter, especially if it’s been depleted, is a slow process. “It takes 50 to 60 years to increase the true organic matter (of the soil) by 1 per cent,” he said. “It’s a very slow process,” and historically, Kaiser hadn’t seen the leadership he thought was necessary to make it happen.
But the province’s draft soil plan is an excellent step in the right direction, he said. “I’m really impressed that it’s been done. The leadership. That’s what I was looking for, and there it is.”
Producers looking for the draft soil plan can find it at www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/landuse/soilhealth.htm.
The province is taking comments on the plan until Dec. 31. They can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to 519-826-3492, a survey can be filled out on OMAFRA’s website, comments can be submitted through the environmental registry through OMAFRA’s website, or they can be mailed to OMAFRA.