Island 'soil champion' recognized for soil conservation leadership
Indian Head, Sask., March 22, 2011:
A Prince Edward Island conservationist has been honoured for his leadership in helping farmers implement soil and water conservation practices to improve the Island's rural environment. Ron DeHaan is the newest inductee into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame, an award which recognizes deserving Canadians for their outstanding contributions to soil and water conservation.
DeHaan has spent his professional career with the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture helping farmers implement soil and water conservation practices such as residue management, hay/straw mulching, winter cover cropping, integrated soil conservation structures and nutrient management. Today many thousand acres of Island farmland are protected from soil degradation with a combination of diversion terraces, farmable berm structures, grassed waterways and strip cropping.
In the early 1990's DeHaan introduced a minimum tillage practice for potato rotations to control erosion. The on-farm research showed residue management improved yields, reduced tillage costs and reduced the need for irrigation. Currently there is ongoing research to see if long tern high residue levels have any effect on tuber quality. His research and investigations on improved potato hilling and one pass tillage practices with "furrow dammers" to reduce erosion and runoff have been adopted by many P.E.I. producers.
DeHaan also advocated for legislative and policy changes that would help both farmers and soil conservation. Examples include property tax relief for sensitive environmental lands and reduced crop insurance for farmers developing and implementing nutrient management plans. He has made soil and water conservation education and awareness a priority over his entire career and as a result he is a highly respected leader by P.E.I. producers.
"There's no question that significant progress has been made on the soil and water conservation front over the past twenty-five years," says Don McCabe, president of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada. "At the same time, there is still much more work required to address long term soil sustainability issues. That's why it's so important to celebrate 'soil champions' such as Mr. DeHaan who represent the goals and success of the soil conservation movement."
Established in 1990 by SCCC, the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes the contributions of Canadians to the conservation ethic in Canada. "Nominees for induction need not be farmers or those directly employed in agriculture or soil conservation related activities," says Glen Shaw, executive director of SCCC. "They can also be scientists, extension workers, educators, writers or anyone who has made a significant contribution through their dedication to promoting conservation. Their accomplishments and contributions may be on a national, provincial, regional or local level."
SCCC is the face and voice of soil conservation in Canada. Over the course of National Soil Conservation Week, held this year April 17-23, "soil champions" will be highlighted on the SCCC Web site at www.soilcc.ca.
"It's our way of saluting the efforts of just a few of the many producers who have adopted more sustainable soil management practices," says McCabe. "These producers took a chance on these practices at a time when they were not as accepted as they are today."
For more information, contact:
Don McCabe, President
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Ph: (519) 331-6175
Glen Shaw, Executive Director
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Ph: (306) 972-7293
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