SOIL HEALTH ON PEI IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO OUR ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE.
On Prince Edward Island, we celebrate all the amazing products that grow or graze upon our farm land. We work hard to nurture and protect all that comes from our soil. We also need to nurture and protect what goes into our soil. That balance is a key component to Soil First Farming.
LET'S TALK CO2.
Carbon dioxide is an invisible, colourless, odourless gas that is indispensable to life on earth. Everything runs by carbon. We breathe it out. Plants breathe it in.
Soil cycles carbon (like decaying plant matter), allowing that carbon to be stored underground. This further contributes to soil quality and feeding the microbial ecosystem. Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and this is passed to the ground when dead roots and leaves decompose.
Soil carbon is the food for soil life, which is responsible for creating and maintaining healthy soil. With healthier soils, crops are less reliant on additional inputs, more protected from diseases, and able to better maintain productivity in unfavourable climates.
STORING. ABSORPTION. SEQUESTRATION.
Healthy soil has the ability to pull carbon out of the atmosphere (where in excess quantities, it is a harmful greenhouse gas) and store it underground where it can restore nutrients and feed an array of biology and life.
Soil First Farming recognizes that drawing down carbon into our Island soil, otherwise known as Soil Carbon Sequestration, is a viable and scalable way in which PEI can do its part to combat the global climate crisis.
By reducing on-farm greenhouse gases, and simultaneously encouraging Soil Carbon Sequestration, the Island agricultural industry can really make a difference when it comes to greenhouse gas mitigation on PEI.
Cover crops. Crop rotations. Diversity in plants. Maintaining living roots year-round. Minimized tillage. While these practices are often referred to as key components of REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE, they are also the foundation of beneficial management practices for Soil First Farming.
REDUCTION. REDUCING. MITIGATION.
Climate-focused best practices aim to have more carbon captured than emitted on farms.
Too much CO2 in the atmosphere is a known negative for the environment. How much carbon soils can absorb, and how long they can store it, varies by location and is effectively determined by how the land is managed. This management includes elements outside of just how the soil itself is farmed.
PEI AGRICULTURE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS PROGRAM
Currently, Prince Edward Island has introduced the PEI AGRICULTURE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS PROGRAM to encourage and provide assistance to the Prince Edward Island agriculture industry to implement beneficial management practices that mitigate the production of greenhouse gases (GHG) during or from various agricultural activities, or by prompting carbon storage in soils.
PEI Agriculture Climate Solutions Program supported by Low Carbon Economy Fund
The PEI Agriculture Climate Solutions Program provides financial assistance for the adoption of beneficial on-farm projects and through trial-based payments that encourage the adoption of beneficial practices through demonstration, validation, and knowledge-transfer.
Some of the current PEI programs which help to support the lessening of CO2 emissions include:
- Installing liquid manure storage covers
- Improving grazing management practices
- Willow planting in field edges or marginal/sensitive areas
- Development and implementation of trial-based activities in the areas of nitrogen fertilizer management and incorporating feed additives into ruminant livestock diets