Through a new Soil Health Testing Program, growers in Ontario will be able to measure and evaluate the impact of different beneficial management practices (BMPs) on soil health, a June 8 news release from the Greenbelt Foundation said.
“Farmers know that healthy soils are key to productivity, while having the added benefits of supporting biodiversity and ecosystem health,” Jenny Bower, research soil scientist at the Soil Health Institute, said in the release. “But farmers can only manage what they can measure. This program enables farmers to measure soil health improvement associated with changes in management practices.”
The release noted the program will implement an innovative, scalable method for evaluating and tracking improvements in soil health. Soil health indicators measured will include organic carbon concentration, carbon mineralization potential, aggregate stability, permanganate-oxidizable carbon, and available water holding capacity. The program will draw on farmer-to-farmer social networks to share technical agronomic knowledge about implementing soil health systems.
The program aims to sample 300 to 500 farms in the Golden Horseshoe region, the release said. Once sampling is completed, farmers will receive customized soil health reports to compare soil health in their fields to similar soils in their region. Farmers will be provided with one-on-one support from experts to set goals to build healthy, productive soils.
The program is a partnership between the Greenbelt Foundation, Soil Health Institute, and several Ontario agricultural organizations, including Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Soils at Guelph, Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Association, and Conservation Ontario. This project is funded and supported by the Weston Family Foundation’s Soil Health Initiative and the Ontario provincial government, the release said.
Grain and oilseed farmers in the Golden Horseshoe region can apply for free for the soil health sampling and assessments.