Happy National Soil Conservation Week!

Agricultural soil is one of our most valuable non-renewable resources. It provides us with fresh, local food, contributes to the clothing we wear, and even to the fuel we use to drive our cars. Additionally, Ontario’s farmland is also a major contributor to the provincial economy. The agricultural sector is the largest economic sector in Ontario, employing over 837,000 Ontarians, and farmland is the backbone of that sector. Our supply of agricultural soil is finite, so when it is lost, we can never get it back. 

This National Soil Week, we wanted to highlight some of the key threats to Ontario’s farmland, how OFT’s work helps protect our agricultural soil, and what you can do to help!

Two of the biggest threats to farmland in Ontario are urban development and expansion, and aggregate mining.

One of the biggest impacts of urban expansion is soil sealing. Soil sealing is the term used when soil is covered up by impermeable materials such as concrete, which leads to irreversible damage to the soil. Once the soil has been sealed, it can never be productive farmland again. Not only that, but all of the ecosystem services that the soil provided, such as water filtration, flood prevention, and carbon sequestration,  will be lost as well. For more details about the effects of soil sealing, read our Soil Sealing blog.

Another big threat to Ontario’s farmland is aggregate mining. When aggregates (e.g. gravel) are mined from under farmland, it disrupts the structure and function of that soil. Even though some aggregate mines may be rehabilitated back to a condition where agriculture is possible, the structure of the soil has been altered to a place where the land will never be as productive as it was before. To learn more about how aggregate mining impacts farmland, read our blog about it here.

OFT works with farmers and farmland owners throughout Ontario to protect farmland from threats like those above. Our farmland easement agreements are voluntary agreements that protect the farmland and natural features on farms, forever. OFT also regularly submits feedback on proposed changes to provincial policies in order to strengthen the protections for farmland in provincial land use planning policies. To read our policy submissions, click here.

Currently, Ontario loses 175 acres of farmland and productive agricultural soil every day. This is not sustainable. You can help change that.  

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to hear more stories about farmland protection and to share these stories with your network. And join our growing community of supporters working hard to protect farmland and agricultural soils for the future by donating today. Together, we can make a difference.