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Soil conservation is worth celebrating

Apr. 4, 2016 - Soil health and conservation play a key role in environmental stewardship and have been long-standings commitments of the agriculture industry. Whether the industry is discussing the efficient and responsible use of nutrients to farmers, or the science behind sustainable food production to youth, soil conservation is always an underlying priority.

National Soil Conservation Week was established to commemorate the importance of soil health and agricultural sustainability by The Honourable Senator Herbert Sparrow, a passionate champion for protecting Canada's soil and the founding president of what would become the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC). Taking place annually in the third week of April, National Soil Conservation Week is an opportunity for the agriculture and agri-food industry to inform Canadians about the importance of our soil, air, water, and biodiversity resources that make up the agricultural landscape. This year, Canadians will celebrate National Soil Conservation Week from April 17th to April 23rd.

Soil health and conservation can be practiced in many forms. Fertilizer Canada's 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place) is an excellent example of a science-based program focused on sustainable agriculture seeking to balance nutrient management decisions within a framework of economic, social, and environmental goals. This program is proving to be an increasingly important tool for farmers to help them remain sustainable in their operations while also benefiting the environment.

"Nutrients for Life Foundation Canada recognizes the importance of National Soil Conservation Week and the need to educate the next generation on the role soil science plays in sustainable agricultural practices," said Bob Adamson, Chairman of Nutrients for Life Foundation Canada. "It's crucial for youth to know the science behind food production. Learning about the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework, in conjunction with National Soil Conservation Week, helps us to inspire the next generation to be good stewards of our land."

To illustrate the importance of soil health and conservation to Canadians, Nutrients for Life Foundation Canada and SCCC partnered with the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to create an exciting new exhibit on soil, launching in 2017. This exhibit will highlight the essential link between soil science and food security. It will also serve as the new home for the SCCC's Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame. The Conservation Hall of Fame provides recognition of individuals who have had a national impact as they furthered the conservation ethic and have made an outstanding contribution to the care of soil and the water, air, and environment that it affects. The Conservation Hall of Fame was established by SCCC in 1990 and now has 28 inductees. These inductees represent a range of backgrounds and contributions ranging from agricultural extension specialists, soil care leaders from university, government, and supportive organizations, and individuals who have campaigned for soil conservation and demonstrated that soil protection and care contributes to sustainable, reliable, and profitable crop production.

"As the face and voice of soil conservation in Canada, our organization works to elevate the importance of soil as an essential resource to society," said Paul Thoroughgood, SCCC Chair. "Only a small amount of our land is suitable for agriculture, and much of this area is threatened by soil degradation, urbanization, and other uses. We have the land management skills to do a better job of producing food in a sustainable way."

To celebrate National Soil Conservation Week, SCCC is launching a photo contest that focuses on the themes of soil, water, air, and biodiversity as they relate to healthy agricultural landscapes in Canada. For more information, visit www.soilcc.ca.