Development of an Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy

Healthy agricultural soil is a living and dynamic ecosystem, and one of the foundations of life. Wise management can ensure the soil is fertile and full of the living organisms that are essential to grow food and other agricultural products, now and for future generations. It takes many years for natural processes to make healthy soil, and very little time to destroy it, so thoughtful stewardship is a must.

Even being so critical to agriculture production and the environment, Ontario's agricultural soil is under increasing stress:

  • Increasing demands on soils to grow food for an increasing provincial and global population.
  • Changes in cropping, tillage and other practices may be affecting soil health.
  • Climate change is bringing extreme wet weather and drought events that increase soil erosion. Extreme temperature swings may also increase stress on soil and crops.
  • Water quality issues, especially in the Great Lakes, are linked to contributions from farm runoff (e.g. nutrients and pesticides).

Healthy soil is extremely important for all of us. That's why Ontario is committed to working collaboratively with farmers, industry and community partners and Indigenous communities to develop a strategy that will sustain and support healthy soil so our land can be productive for us and well into the future.

The strategy will build on and align with other government programs, including:

This discussion document is intended to start the process. Part I provides a framework to help guide the public conversation around developing the strategy. Part II provides the technical background and analysis that support the framework laid out in Part I.

Discussion Document

Click here for the discussion document 'Sustaining Ontario's Agricultural Soils: Towards a Shared Vision'

OMAFRA developed this proposal in collaboration with the agricultural industry, as they have long shared a commitment to the sustainable management of Ontario's agricultural soils. Public feedback on these ideas will help us shape a provincial Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. A new strategy will build on the extensive soils work by both stakeholder organizations and OMAFRA, and ensure that both government and industry are doing the right things to address soil issues.

A series of technical industry discussions will complement this public dialogue. The province is also committed to continuing its engagement with the region's First Nations and Métis communities.

How to participate

Provide your feedback

We welcome your comments and feedback on the proposal. You can submit comments a number of ways during the consultation period which closes on November 27, 2016:

  1. Environmental Bill of Rights Registry at
  2. Fax: 519-826-3492
  3. Mail: Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy
    Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
    1 Stone Road West, 2nd floor
    Guelph, ON N1G 4Y2

Notice Regarding Collection of Information

Any collection of personal information for this public engagement is in accordance with subsection 39(2) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

If you have questions about the collection, use, and disclosure of this information, please contact the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Senior Information and Privacy Advisor, 777 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2E5, 416-585-7094.

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