2017 saw the OMAFRA Soil Team partner with OSCIA to return to Eastern Ontario for a day of digging in the…soil. The day was packed with a mix of presentations and hands-on exercises that went through the basics of managing for soil variability, working with soil biology and assessing soil health. The Millard family of Vernon Valley Farms graciously hosted 45 participants representing farmers, agribusiness, and several organizations.
Adam Gillespie introduced the soils of the region and touched on their diversity and different characteristics across the landscape, followed by Paul Sullivan, who spoke to the group about managing soil variability at the field scale. Then, participants split into groups to visit several soil pits that highlighted important distinguishing properties of different soil profiles: texture, structure, and organic matter.
Dr. Joann Whalen, a soil science researcher from McGill University and President of the Canadian Society of Soil Science well known for her work on life in the soil, regaled the attendants with a deep dive into the ecological interactions in the soil, and explained how producers can manage soils so as to leverage those interactions for improved crop production and soil health.
The afternoon sessions had participants again split into groups to trial several hands-on soil quality assessments that could be used on their own farms.
The Soil Management Workshop has been offered by the OMAFRA Soil Team for nearly fifteen years; each year in a different part of the province. The goal of the workshop is to provide practical and applied, hands-on training on the many aspects of soil that impact good crop production. The training helps participants to look beyond the crop and encourages the consideration of soil management issues.
OMAFRA Soil Team c/o Sebastian Belliard, Sebastian.firstname.lastname@example.org