National Soil Conservation Week April 20-26 targets soil management progress
Indian Head, Sask., April 16, 2008:
Canada's farmers have made dramatic progress in managing soils at the farm level. But with pressures for continually increasing production combined with the growing environmental expectations of consumers, the broad support of society has never been more important in building a basis for the future, says the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC).
SCCC is a charter supporter of National Soil Conservation Week, to be held April 20-26, says Doug McKell, SCCC executive director. "That week is an opportunity to celebrate soil management progress but also to reflect on how important soil is as a resource in the production of food in Canada and how it contributes to a productive ecosystem, including water and air quality management and biodiversity."
There is clear evidence Canada's producers have been major drivers of a new generation of soil management practices, says McKell. They have developed new technology and farm-based research and have broadly adopted practices which conserve the soil and improve productivity.
"The good news is that more and more producers throughout Canada are adopting low disturbance and minimum or zero-till cropping practices," he says. "These practices are used extensively in Western Canada, where over 50 percent of grain growing land is farmed using zero-till practices. In Eastern and Atlantic Canada, the adoption rate of zero tillage is lower. However, there are now more corn, soybean and grain fields under direct or reduced tillage seeding systems than ever."
According to Statistics Canada, the number of acres under summerfallow in Western Canada has dropped from nearly 20 million acres in 1991 to about 10 million acres in the early part of this decade. "That's just one example of how these producers have tested and adopted crop management systems that protect the soil, capture nutrients and sequester carbon," says McKell.
There are many examples of this progress across Canada available through the grassroots membership organization of SCCC, says McKell. Those organizations and the soil management progress they represent are available on the new SCCC Web site, which was introduced last year and is anchored at www.soilcc.ca.
"Over the past year, we have been honouring Canada's soil champions with a series of articles on the Web site. These individuals showed leadership at a time when certain soil conservation practices were not as popular as they are today. This year we continue that recognition with an article on Bill McCurdy, a producer from Old Barns, Nova Scotia who is the newest inductee into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame."
There is opportunity to learn what the rest of the world is doing to promote soil conservation, says McKell, who recently visited Paraguay and Brazil to see how producers there are tackling this challenge. What he found was a group of farmers working together to protect the soil from erosion through widespread zero-till practices, cover crops and watershed management.
The full story, "Lessons in Soil Conservation," is available on the SCCC Web site. Other recent feature stories on the site include "Blazing a Trail for a New Soils Mindset" and "The Search for Soil Conservation Economics."
SCCC is the face and voice of soil conservation in Canada. A national, non-governmental, independent organization, it was formed in 1987 to provide a non-partisan public forum at the national level for soil conservation.
Using a grassroots approach combined with the scientific, technical and practical experience of its members, it works with government and private industry, individuals and non-government organizations to address soil degradation and facilitate exchange of information across Canada.
For more information, contact:
Doug McKell, Executive Director
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Indian Head, SK
Ph.: (306) 695-4212
Jean-Louis Daigle, Executive Director/Directeur général
Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre/
Centre de conservation des sols et de l'eau de l'Est du Canada
Saint-André (Grand Falls), NB
Ph: (506) 475-4040