The government of Ontario will be investing €1.6M in the University of Guelph’s agri-food research. This investment is intended for research on enhanced soil health and water quality.
According to a research paper by Alexandra Bot and Jos Benites of the Land and Plant Nutrition Service: “Healthy soil is the foundation of the food system. It produces healthy crops that in turn nourish people. Maintaining a healthy soil demands care and effort from farmers because farming is not benign. By definition, farming disturbs the natural soil processes.”
There is a strong link between soil quality and groundwater pollution. Contaminants such as pesticides are expensive to remove from drinking water and in some cases it can be ineffective. According to a study conducted by the National Research Council, Washington, USA: “The disruption of aquatic ecosystems caused by nutrients, pesticides, sediments, salts and trace elements may be difficult to reverse at a reasonable cost or in a reasonable length of time. Preventing pollution by changing farming practices rathe than treating problems after they have occurred, should be the primary approach.”
In order to protect the environment and foster efficiency in the agri-food sector, the €1.6M investment will be delivered through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance (OAFIA). The funding will be used on developing new technologies, practices and on-farm solutions to poor soil and water quality.
Other motivations for the University of Guelph are attracting bees and other pollinators to crops, helping farmer track soil health, learning methods of enhancing productivity in the off-seasons, and overcoming the barriers that prevent high soil health.
Malcolm Campbell, vice-president of the University of Guelph “As Canada’s food university, the University of Guelph is committed to research that enhances the production of safe and healthy food while protecting the environment…With this government support, University of Guelph researchers will make world-class discoveries that help Ontario farmers nourish Canadians and preserve our natural environment.”