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, agriculture and the agri-food economy. 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:

The following discussion document started the process of developing a soil strategy in the fall of 2016. 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 is helping 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.

Consultation on this document occurred from August 29 to November 27, 2016.

Further consultation and engagement will occur related to a draft agricultural soil health and conservation strategy later this year. Stay tuned for that document. This page will be updated as the process evolves.

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