Did you know that in addition to providing us with food, fuel, fibre, and flowers, Ontario’s farmland can also provide a range of ecosystem services that benefit the surrounding landscape?

It’s true! Farmland is capable of providing ecosystem services like water filtration and flood mitigation, which can be beneficial for nearby communities, and this includes farmland that falls into lower-ranked classes. Follow these links to learn more about Ontario’s diverse farmland and the agri-food sector it supports from our previous blogs, and click here to check out our new fact sheet!

Farmland is what would be considered a permeable surface, in that water is able to penetrate and percolate through the soil, rather than run off. This allows for rainwater to absorb into the ground, delaying it from entering rivers and streams right away. This is beneficial because it prevents downstream erosion and flooding by slowing the speed that rainwater enters the watercourse. In contrast, non-agricultural development on farmland creates impermeable surfaces like asphalt (that water cannot penetrate). Not only does this put more pressure on stormwater management systems, but it also removes the opportunity for the soil to filter out any pollutants the water may have picked up. Thus, our farmland can help to both prevent flooding and reduce pollution!

Ontario’s farmland also provides wildlife habitat, and many at-risk grassland species in Ontario, such as Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark, actually rely on farmland as habitat. These species use permanent pastureland and hay fields for breeding and foraging, and this type of agricultural activity can actually thrive on lower-ranked farmland.

Additionally, with the use of specific management practices it is also possible to sequester carbon in our farmlands! The potential for carbon sequestration on our farmlands is huge, and could make a big difference for the future. The more farmland that is permanently protected, the more farmland we can put to work for the environment.

Protecting farmland is crucial because without farmland, farming is not possible.

Farmers are stewards of the land, and they work hard to protect our valuable resources while producing fresh food and other goods for Ontarians. All of Ontario’s farmland is a valuable resource that is capable of more than producing goods for Ontarians, and all of Ontario’s farmland deserves strong protections in land use planning policy.

Do you want to learn more about the true value of farmland? Check out our new fact sheet here.