Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Ontario Updating Soil Map to Support Farmers` Environmental Stewardship Effort

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Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

New Data Will Support Agricultural Planning and Environmental Initiatives

Ottawa, Ontario -- In celebrating Earth Day, Ontario is partnering with the Government of Canada on a new soil mapping initiative that will contribute to the growing understanding of how land use patterns have changed by using new and up to date technologies.

With an investment of $5.1 million through Growing Forward 2, the new data collected by the soil mapping initiative will help farmers adjust their management practices by:

  • Providing data to support agricultural and environmental initiatives
  • Contributing information to support climate change mitigation and adaption efforts
  • Further protecting the quality of Ontario's lakes, rivers and streams. 

Ontario will continue to work with the federal government to continue to seek a long-term funding path that would continue this important work after Growing Forward 2 program ends to ensure soil mapping is expanded to cover the entire province.

Supporting agricultural planning and environmental initiatives is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Quick facts

  • April 17-23 is National Soil Conservation Week, led by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada.
  • Provincial soil mapping activities will begin this spring focusing on farmland bordering the City of Ottawa, the County of Peterborough and the Cochrane to Hearst corridor in northeastern Ontario. In 2017 and 2018, provincial mapping efforts will focus on the upper part of the Grand River Conservation Authority and Temiskaming Shores area of northeastern Ontario.
  • A range of technologies will be used to develop the maps, including Light Detection and Ranging or LiDAR, remote sensing, Geographic Information System tools and specialized computer software. 
  • Growing Forward 2 is a federal-provincial-territorial funding program that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada's agri-food and agri-products sector. Since 2013, Growing Forward 2 has provided a total of over $94 million in cost share funding to approximately 4,300 projects to support Ontario's agri-food and agri-based bioproducts sector.
  • Mike and Susan Bohm of Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farms have had an Environmental Farm Plan in place for the past ten years. One of their more recent projects, funded by Growing Forward 2, involved cleaning out and deepening an old pond, so it could be used as a water source. The rehabilitated pond was then linked to the adjacent wetlands, improving habitat for a variety of wildlife, birds and fish.

Quotes

'This new soil mapping initiative is what innovative agriculture is all about. We know Canadian farmers are great stewards of the land. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is committed to working with provinces on investments like this one. It will minimize farmers' environmental footprint and respond to climate change with sustainable practices, protecting farmland for generations to come.'

- Maryam Monsef, Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha

'Today we acknowledge the hard work and commitment that Ontario's farmers have always put into being good stewards of the land. This is an important step forward for gathering data that will support the health of our provinces agricultural soils and ensure that we have the information needed to promote environmental and economic sustainability in Ontario's agriculture sector for generations to come.'

- Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

'At Hawthorne Ridge we strive to maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem that includes all parts of the farm; the fields, the forest, the wetlands and the creek. We have made a serious commitment to land and water stewardship. Having an Environmental Farm Plan helps us to farm in harmony with natural ecosystems, on land that is home to many native species of wildlife and birds.'

- Mike and Susan Bohm, Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm

'The new soil mapping initiative will result in valuable management tools for farmers. It is important to recognize the accomplishments of the 40,000 farm families that have voluntarily taken part in the Environmental Farm Plan to date, and to realize that everyone started the educational process by consulting a soil map. As farmers we strive to understand the soil's potential and limitations, so we can develop sustainable crop production systems and conserve a robust environment.'

- Gord Green, President, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

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