Council elevates need for conservation during National Soil Conservation Week
Indian Head, SK, April 13, 2015:
For the 31st annual National Soil Conservation Week, April 19-25, 2015, the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) is celebrating the importance of soils and elevating the need for conserving our most essential natural resource.
"In addition to National Soil Conservation Week, the SCCC will be working on several educational and collaborative initiatives to encourage soil conservation and related resource protection, to raise awareness of the looming crisis that will result if soil degradation and loss aren't curtailed", said Paul Thoroughgood, SCCC Chair.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) proclaimed 2015 the International Year of the Soils and states that "Soil is a finite resource, meaning its loss and degradation is not recoverable within a human lifespan."
In Canada, "Only five percent of our vast terrain is suited to agriculture, and much of this area is threatened by soil degradation, urbanization and other land uses," according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (The Health of our Soils).
"The sustained use of our natural land and water resources is under threat from soil erosion and sedimentation," said David Lobb, Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba. "The loss of soil degrades soil quality, diminishing the utility and value of land resources by reducing its capacity to produce food, fuel and fibre. It is estimated that crop production in Canada has been reduced by between five and 10 percent from the loss of soil. This represents a loss of about $2 billion per year to Canadian agriculture and the Canadian economy. For a typical farm, this translates into an annual loss of about $35,000."
Human survival depends on the productivity of a few inches of topsoil. According to Statistics Canada, between 1971 and 1996 urban use consumed 6 thousand square kilometres of Class 1, 2 and 3 farm land. This continues at an alarming rate. In the 1980s, land under cultivation surpassed the area of Class 1, 2 and 3 lands available for farming. This means we are already farming on fragile, less productive land, which is extremely sensitive to tillage erosion. History shows that ancient civilizations toppled when they could no longer feed themselves because of seriously degraded soils. Increasing demands will be made on Canada's land and water resources as population climbs and food requirement intensifies. The fate of future generations depends on how well we succeed in protecting and caring for our soils now.
"Tillage erosion and urban sprawl onto farmland are the most concerning causes of soil degradation and soil loss in Canada," said Alan Kruzel, SCCC Vice Chair. "We have the land management skills to do a better job of producing food in a sustainable way. The challenge of finding the right balance for accommodating land use and management choices, population growth, and food security will be immense."
The SCCC is the only national organization to concentrate on the issues of soil health and soil conservation within a broadly based landscape context. It works to build a greater understanding of the importance of soil as an essential resource to society by facilitating the exchange of information with all stakeholders. In 2014, the SCCC successfully co-hosted the 6th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture. The SCCC is the face and voice of Canada's soils. Healthy soils are the foundation of sustainable food production, enhanced biodiversity, and cleaner air and water for present and future generations.
Western Canada: Paul Thoroughgood, Chair – 306-631-1603