As Islanders, we're proud to live in the land of red soil.
The PEI Department of Agriculture and Land, as well as their many partners and stakeholders, are equally as proud of our red soil, and work with our farming communities to nurture and sustain it.
The following are some of the key programs and resources which support the industry, and are designed to protect our soil and overall environment for generations to come.
Several of these programs are available through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership; a five-year (2018-2023) investment by federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments to strengthen and grow Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector.
THE PEI ANALYTICAL LABORATORIES
PEI Analytical Laboratories (PEIAL) provides chemical and microbiological analysis for water, soil, dairy, animal feed, seed, plant tissue, manure, compost samples, and disease identification service for crops. The lab is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) to the international standard for the general requirements for competence of testing and calibration laboratories.
SOIL HEALTH TESTING SERVICE
Since 2019, there has been a new soil health testing service available to the public. The SOIL HEALTH TESTING SERVICE is provided by PEI Analytical Laboratories (PEIAL) and includes the following soil condition tests:
- Soil texture
- Aggregate stability
- Soil respiration
- Active carbon
- Biological nitrogen availability
Island farmers and watershed groups can currently access this testing service for no additional cost.
SOIL QUALITY MONITORING STUDY
The Soil Quality Monitoring program (SQM) has been run by PEI Department of Agriculture and Land (PEIDAL) for over 20 years, measuring soil quality across the Island. Over a 3-year span, a total of 232 sites samples are collected on a 4km² grid, providing the Department and other researchers with an island wide representative snapshot of agricultural soils on PEI. Historically, samples have been tested for multiple chemical constraints, including soil organic matter, pH, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. PEIDAL has recently bolstered the SQM program by adding soil health testing to the suite of analyses run which will give biological and physical data on soils across the Island.
PEI AGRICULTURE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS PROGRAM
This program provides financial assistance for the adoption of beneficial on-farm projects and through trial-based monitoring for the implementation 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
AGRICULTURE STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM
The Agriculture Stewardship Program is a suite of initiatives designed to increase environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation by providing technical and financial support to encourage producers to voluntarily implement beneficial management practices.
Agriculture Stewardship Program supported by Canadian Agricultural Partnership
Soil Health Improvement Planning (SHIP)
The soil health improvement planning service is designed to give growers the ability to assess their fields' soil health and make concrete steps towards protecting it. Several indicators and models such as the soil health testing service and the RUSLE2 soil conditioning index are used to measure soil biological activity, water holding capacity, fertility, erosion potential, and more. An individualized plan is then developed with the help of soil and water conservation specialists in order to help decide which management practices would best protect the soil in that field.
On Farm Climate Action Plan (OFCAF)
Administered by the PEI Federation of Agriculture, OFCAF offers funding to growers looking to mitigate agricultural contributions to climate change through beneficial management practices. Growers adopting or expanding cover cropping, nitrogen management, or grazing management on their farms are eligible to apply on a project or per-acre basis. Funding for this program is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Agricultural Climate Solutions Program, through the Natural Climate Solutions Fund.
ALTERNATIVE LAND USE SERVICES (ALUS) PROGRAM
Agricultural landowners can apply for financial assistance to implement beneficial management practices or remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production. This assists to prevent soil erosion and siltation in order to protect watercourses and wetlands, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat in these areas.
ALUS supported by Canadian Agricultural Partnership
THE AGRONOMY INITIATIVE FOR MARKETABLE YIELD
The Agronomy Initiative for Marketable Yield (AIM) is a partnership between potato producers, Cavendish Farms, the PEIDAL and AAFC to improve marketable yields of potatoes while prioritizing research focused on economic and environmental sustainability. This initiative includes the Soil Improvement Working Group, including both farmers and industry partners working on a range of research and agronomy projects including cover cropping, disease suppressive crops, manure management, and compaction mitigation.
AIM supported by Canadian Agricultural Partnership
PERENNIAL CROP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The Perennial Crop Development Program is designed to increase environmental sustainability in PEI’s agriculture sector, and supports the establishment of new cropping systems and improvements in existing systems using technological advances and improvements in storage and production practices.
Perennial Crop Development Program supported by Canadian Agricultural Partnership
LIVING LABORATORIES INITIATIVE
Living Laboratories Initiative brings together farmers, scientists, and other collaborators to co-develop and test innovative practices and technologies to address agri-environmental issues across Canada. Currently, on-farm research is taking place in the Dunk River, Kensington North and Souris watersheds, as well as at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Harrington Research Farm.
Living Labs supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
PRECISION AGRICULTURE RESEARCH PROGRAM
At UPEI's Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering, key research areas include site-specific nutrient management, map/sensor based variable rate technologies, sensing and control systems to map weed and disease infestations, spatial and temporal modeling of soil and crop, and yield monitoring and optimization of harvesting efficiency.
PEI AGRIWATERSHED PARTNERSHIP
Formed in 2019, the PEI AgriWatershed Partnership is a coalition representing major stakeholders who are committed to working with the farming and watershed communities to improve the health and PEI’s soil and water resources, and to support strategies aimed at reducing the impacts of agricultural runoff on watercourses and wetlands.