Water that runs off fields instead of soaking in can be an indicator of low soil organic matter.

How to identify low organic matter

Things to look for when walking and working in the field

Reading Time: 3 minutes Did your fields show a lot of crusting this planting season? Was there standing water where there shouldn’t be? These and other indicators, say provincial soil health experts, mean your soil organic matter (SOM) levels could use some attention. Why it matters: SOM improves soil health and helps reduce crop susceptibility to extreme conditions. While […] Read more

The last time the state of Canada’s soil was analyzed was in the 1980s.

Eastern Canada gets poor grades on soil

A report card compares soil management and health between Eastern and Western Canada

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Soil Conservation Council of Canada has released its first national soil health report card. The soil grades are based on farmer changes made over the past five to 10 years, soil conditions, and whether organic matter levels have improved. “It wasn’t in terms of hard data, but just from my experience and research, extensions […] Read more

Cattle graze at Carlton Angus Cattle Company.

Award winners focus on managing cows and calves on pasture

Fresh water, grazing rotation followed by Mapleseed, TESA winners

Reading Time: 3 minutes Beef Farmers of Ontario hands out two awards for pasture and environmental management — and both usually end up with similarities and that was the case in 2020. Both the Mapleseed Pasture Award winner and The Environmental Stewardship Award winners manage large numbers of cows on pasture and have made strategic decisions to intensively manage […] Read more

A field within the Medway Creek water quality project.

Promoting winter cover crops with local data

Conservation authority looking for cover crop impact on water quality in Upper Thames

Reading Time: 2 minutes In an effort to improve water quality, the Upper Thames Conservation Authority (UTCA) is promoting cover crop adoption by making data on the environmental efficacy of winter cover more relevant to local farmers. Why it matters: Better economic data would help farmers making decisions about whether to use cover crops. The UTCA is pursuing the […] Read more

SoilReader can be mounted on any field implement or used in a separate dedicated operation as shown here.

Real-time soil analysis in the field

Don’t bring your soil sample to the lab, take the lab to the field, says the Canadian inventor of the SoilReader

Reading Time: 3 minutes Glacier FarmMedia – It’s a difficult concept to sum up in a few words. A Canadian startup sells a coulter that reads nine nutrient factors while pulled through soil. As the headline states, SoilReader can provide real-time data, on the go, as it is pulled through the field. The nine vital constituents are nitrogen, phosphorus, […] Read more


It’s likely to be years until we have a completely solid set of best practices for managing soils.

Editorial: Still lots to know about mechanisms of soil health

Reading Time: 3 minutes The maintenance of soil health has come into much greater prominence in the past five to 10 years. That’s an important step — our soils are the basis of civilization and those that have not understood that have had civilizations collapse. Check out the Nile River delta today. We’re a long way from the lack […] Read more

Daniel Chiappetta has focused on renting land and hiring custom work done to make his farming experience work so far.

The challenge of starting a farm from scratch

A young farmer continues to find ways into farming – driven by sound economics

Reading Time: 4 minutes Daniel Chiappetta has had to be creative in making his way into farming and that route has included investing in quicker return areas outside of agriculture and in targeted farm-related rental agreements and purchases. Chiapetta, an account manager for TD bought his first farm two years ago. And then he sold it because it made […] Read more

New federal-provincial initiative aims to add to soil health knowledge.

New ONFARM program to build soil health measures and learning

The long-term program will help set up sites and resources for information sharing

Reading Time: < 1 minute A new $5.75 million program aims to increase soil health through multi-year on-farm research. The program called the On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM) project, will be funded by the Canadian and Ontario governments through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP). The project was announced on Dec. 5, World Soils Day. The ONFARM project will support […] Read more


The Luymes brothers are trying biostrips as a way to work with strip tillage.

Provincial soil tour looks at minimal tillage, biostrips

The tour visited regional farms as part of the Ontario Soil Network

Reading Time: 4 minutes There’s no one system for improving soil health and that was on display during a recent Ontario Soil Health Network tour across the province. The tour visited more than 20 farms, from Kingsville to Douglas, arriving at the farms of the members of the first cohort of the Ontario Soil Network over four days. Farmtario […] Read more

OMAFRA’s Chris Brown talked about a cross trench dug in cover crop strips to show root depth and subsurface characteristics of different covers.

Controlling compaction need not be expensive

Elgin field day highlights high-tech and low-tech methods of reducing compaction

Reading Time: 5 minutes Getting a handle on compaction starts with knowing how much equipment weighs and how some practical techniques can alleviate the iron load. Farmers, agronomists, and equipment dealers gathered at Elgin Compaction Day in Shedden on Aug. 7 and 8 to discuss how compaction happens, as well as how to fix and prevent it. Why it […] Read more