Happy World Soil Day!
World Soil Day is December 5th!
Agricultural soil is one of our most valuable non-renewable resources. Not only do we rely on it to produce food for us to eat, but also for fibre that helps produce clothing, and even for fuel!
Did you know that Ontario’s soils are assessed for their capability for agriculture? They are rated from Class 1 (able to be used for most kinds of agriculture) to Class 7 (best suited for permanent pasture). These ratings are based off of three general qualities: their productivity relative to all other soils in Canada; the range of crops that they are capable of producing; and the amount of management they need order for them to be productive (OMAFRA, 2020). These ratings help farmers and farmland owners know what types of crops or products their land is capable of effectively producing.
Only 0.5% of Canada’s agricultural soil is classified as Class 1, and about half of this class 1 soil is found in Ontario. However, much of this class 1 soil is found in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), one of the most populated and fastest growing regions in Canada (OFA, 2015). As a result, the development pressure on farmland in this region is extremely high. In fact, since 2006, the GGH has lost over 160,000 acres of productive farmland to non-agricultural development (OMMAH, N.D.).
Some of the best farmland in the country is also the most at risk.
That is why it is crucial that we protect farmland now. OFT regularly provides feedback on provincial policies in order to strengthen protections for farmland. In the past, we have provided feedback on policies such as the Provincial Policy Statement, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Aggregate Resources Act, and more. If you would like to read our policy submissions, click here.
However, provincial policies are always changing, which is why OFT also works to permanently protect farmland with our Farmland Easement Agreements. We work with farmland owners who approach us to protect their farmland, and the associated natural and cultural features of the property, in perpetuity. If you would like to read about our protected farms, click here.
We are happy to celebrate World Soil Day knowing that the agricultural soil on our protected farms will remain farmland forever.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). 2015. Farmland at Risk: How Better Land Use Planning Could Help Ensure a Healthy Future for Agriculture in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. https://ofa.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Farmland-at-risk-How-better-land-use-planningcould-help-ensure-a-healthy-future-for-agriculture-in-the-Greater-Golden-Horseshoe.pdf
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). 2020. Classifying Prime and Marginal Agricultural Soils and Landscapes: Guidelines for Application of the Canada Land Inventory in Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/landuse/classify.htm#cap
Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (OMMAH). N.D. Agriculture – Farmland: a finite, nonrenewable resource. http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=10864