Ontario’s agricultural sector is diverse, and Ontario’s farmland is no exception.
It is, in part, this diversity within our agricultural soils that allow Ontario to produce over 200 different agricultural commodities1. However, in current land use planning policy the protections for farmland focus on protecting primarily the soils that fall into Classes 1-3. This can leave soils that fall into the lower soil classes vulnerable to non-agricultural development.
Agricultural soils that falls outside of Classes 1-3 are valuable agricultural resources that are capable of supporting a variety of agriculture. In fact, many of the crops produced in Ontario are able to thrive on these lower classes of farmland!
This Class 5 soil has been growing heritage grains as part of a family farming operation for decades.
Cows and other animals love to graze on the pasture that this Class 6 soil is able to support. This permanent pasture also acts as suitable habitat for grassland species, such as Bobolink or Eastern Meadowlark! [insert picture]
These soybeans are flourishing on Class 4 farmland.
All of this farmland, despite falling into lower soil classes, is a valuable agricultural resource and is contributing to the success of our provincial agricultural sector. These lower classes of farmland will also be able to help support future generations of Ontarians.
Additionally, Ontario’s agricultural sector is incredibly innovative, and it is constantly evolving. Farmers continue to produce new crops and develop management techniques that allow them to adapt to challenges and changing opportunities. This adaptive nature could allow for farmers to make overcome the limitations presented by varying soil classes. As such, land that may not be considered ‘good’ for agriculture now may be well suited for different crops in the future!
In order to help ensure the long-term viability of our provincial agricultural sector, we need stronger protections for farmland of all soil classes.