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U of G researchers say there is “hope” for improving Canada’s soil health


June 6, 2024  by Manure Manager

A recent Senate report on Canada’s soils raised concerns about Canada’s food production and biodiversity based on current soil health. However, a team of scientists from University of Guelph’s Soils at Guelph team say there are “many options available” to farmers to protect soils.

“The the key is finding ones that fit with the farm operation, the cropping system and the soil – that’s the challenge,” says Laura Van Herd, one of the co-executive directors of Soils at Guelph. She leads the program with Kari Dunfield and Claudia Wagner-Riddle.

The Soil Interpretive Health Centre site has 18 lysimeters for taking soil core samples. “The lysimeters we have at the Soil Health Interpretive Centre are innovative as they compare different soils under the same conditions,” said Wagner-Riddle. “This is instrumental in evaluating and improving soil health based on the farm’s soil type.”

The team advocates for farmers to find the right solution for their unique situations, as there is no one-size-fits-all aprproach. For example, all farms widely adopting a no-tillage system could introduce new risks for operators

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“We collaborate with research teams to identify the most effective ways to incentivize these practices,” said Dunfield, who is the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology of Agro-ecosystems. “It’s crucial for society to understand the significant environmental benefits of these on-farm decisions. We understand that agricultural soils need to be managed in such a way that they maintain their functions and continue to provide the key services that we rely on.”

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