News Releases

National Soil Conservation Week marks 20th anniversary

Indian Head, Sask, April 6, 2005:

While much progress has been made over the past two decades, National Soil Conservation Week in April is an important reminder for all Canadians that continued conservation efforts are needed to protect the valuable soil resource, says the executive director of the nation's leading soil conservation organization.

The 20th anniversary of National Soil Conservation Week being observed April 17 to 23, 2005 emphasizes the need to protect and enhance the soil resource not only as the foundation of a sustainable agriculture industry, but also in a broader environmental role as a natural tool for reducing harmful greenhouse gasses, says Doug McKell with the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC).

"From the soil comes life, and the sustainability of our planet relies much on the health of this fragile veneer," says McKell. "Past civilizations in many parts of the world that did not recognize the importance of their soils have long since vanished. Modern civilizations are taking positive steps to protect their soil resources to ensure we do not suffer the same fate."

McKell describes Canadian producers as world leaders as they've applied soil conservation efforts over much of the country's more than 67 million hectares (165 million acres) of food-production land base.

"Canadians are fortunate to have producer-directed organizations such as Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) as well as many provincial organizations, that have taken on the challenge of protectors and guardians of the soil to prevent its degradation and preserve this resource for our future generations," he says.

"Through SCCC and the efforts of its provincial member organizations, producers are realizing the benefits of using direct seeding and other beneficial management practices to improve water infiltration, increase seedbed moisture, enhance organic matter and reduce the risk of soil erosion from wind and water."

Along with maintaining and improving the productivity and quality of soil to support Canada's agriculture industry, today's soil conservation practices also contribute significantly in the reduction and removal of overall greenhouse gas emissions.

The soil, under zero till cropping systems and annual forages, for example, becomes a natural bank or "sink" for carbon dioxide which is captured by plants from the atmosphere and converted to soil carbon.

"The agriculture industry in Canada is responsible for 10 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, but through soil conservation practices there is potential to provide 20 percent of the solution to mitigating these emissions," says McKell.

"National Soil Conservation Week is an opportunity to recognize the importance of the soil resource and the individual farmers, ranchers and organizations across the country committed to keeping the soil healthy and productivity for future generations."

For more information, contact:

Doug McKell
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Indian Head, Sask.
Phone: (306) 695-4212

Jerome Damboise, Program Co-ordinator
Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre
Grand Falls, New Brunswick
Phone: (506) 475-4040