Senate committee studying Canadian soil health

OTTAWA – Senator Rob Black’s kicking at the dirt in Ottawa has produced momentum for a comprehensive national soil study.

The last soil study, Soil at Risk: Canada’s Eroding Future, was completed in 1984.

A lot has changed in 38 years, including “the way we think about the environment, and the way we think about climate change, in the way we think about the world we live in,” Black previously told the Advertiser.

On April 26, the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry – of which Black is chair – was authorized to begin a new study examining and reporting on soil health in Canada.

The purpose is identifying ways to improve soil health, empower forest product and agricultural producers to “become sustainability leaders” and “improve their economic prosperity.”

The committee will examine:

  • soil conditions;
  • federal measures to support soil health including carbon sequestration;
  • implications of soil health on human health, food security, prosperity and air and water quality; and
  • the role new technology can have in improving soil health.

The goal is to create a modern baseline for soil health and uses in Canada today.

That could be accomplished through committee meetings, interviews with witnesses, consulting experts and scientists, and meeting with farmers in-field to address the financial impacts of responding to climate change, science and technology surrounding soil health, and regulations “to make sure we’re treating our soil properly and treating the land that we’re growing our food on properly,” Black said in a previous interview.

He envisions smaller studies followed by interim reports over the course of 18 to 24 months coming together to form a broader, more comprehensive study as a whole with recommendations for the feds.

“Improving soil health is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour across Canada’s varied soil landscape,” Black stated in an April 27 press release.

He added healthy Canadian soils is a “shared responsibility” requiring sustained commitment.