Below are some recent activities being undertaken by Soil & Crop.
AGM & Conference
Each year the association hosts a conference in February or March to provide up-to-date information to producers on livestock and crop production, farm equipment and sustainable agricultural practices. Visit Events & Notices to view the latest conference agenda.
Riparian Health Assessments for PEI: Capacity Building - Phase I
From June 2008 to March 2009 the PEI Soil & Crop Improvement Association initiated and administered a unique project that focused on riparian health assessments for PEI. The project was unique in that it provided training to members of watershed groups across the Island so that they could develop the technological capacity to conduct riparian health assessments in their watersheds and apply the information collected to 5-year management planning.
The survey method employed was based on the Alberta Cows & Fish Riparian Health Assessment protocols with adaptations for GPS technology obtained from the Nova Scotia Riparian Health Project. After receiving training from the Nova Scotia program the two staff people hired for the project proceeded to carry out training with 13 of the 30 odd watershed groups on the Island. A 50 page Field Guide Book was also designed and adapted for PEI conditions and given to the watershed groups as a reference manual to be used while doing their assessments. Even though only 260 KMs of riparian zones were assessed in 2008 some valuable information about the health of PEI's riparian zones has already been collected.
Farm Demonstration Sites for the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program
Visit Fact Sheets & Reports to learn more about these demonstrations on PEI.
In 2003, the PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association undertook a project of demonstrating and evaluating Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) in agriculture that either reduce or remove greenhouse gas (GHGs). Many BMPs are already being practiced by farmers: new ones are always emerging. Between 2003 and 2005 thirty nine (39) demonstration sites have been established.
The Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program is a national program funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Nationally the program is delivered by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Canadian Pork Council, and Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. The focus of the program is to demonstrate and evaluate BMPs relating to carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. PEI Soil and Crop’s focus is on two GHGs: carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Other groups are involved in methane related demonstrations.
Agroforestry is the production of trees or shrubs for the purpose of providing wind shelter, wildlife habitat, income, and a sink for carbon dioxide, to name only a few. Typical shelter belt trees each contains 162 to 544 kg Carbon, with poplar trees having the most. One-kilometre long mature white spruce shelter belts can sequester 80 tonnes of carbon.
In some areas of the province there is significant amount of marginal and fragile land that is either too high of slope for row crop production or too wet to work. The provincial buffer zone law now requires 10 to 20 meter buffers on all watercourses from agriculture. In addition many farmers are looking for new opportunities away from the commodity treadmill. Agroforestry provides an opportunity for the land owner to receive many benefits.
The PEI Soil and Crop has established 12 agroforestry demonstration sites since 2003. The demonstrations range from trees to shrubs producing anything from wildlife habitat to timber products to nuts and berries to neutraceuticals to floral cuttings and so on.
Nutrient Management Planning - various sites across PEI
A Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) is a document that describes the production practices that a farm manager currently uses and/or will implement to sustain livestock and/or crop production in a manner that is both environmentally and economically sound.
Nutrient management planning is about making sure that crop nutrient needs are met without over fertilizing. It aims to optimize crop yield and quality, minimize input costs, and protect soil, water and air quality.
PEI Soil and Crop is demonstrating and evaluating ongoing nutrient research with many groups and individuals. The following outlines the demonstrations undertaken by PEI Soil and Crop between 2003 and 2005, with assistance from PEI Agriculture and Forestry.
Twelve sites were selected across PEI. Each of these sites were in various stages of a three year crop rotation of potatoes, cereals, and forages (ie four sites for each crop type). Plans were developed and implemented for each of these 12-fields and these will be compared to the conventional practices.
||Maple Plains Demonstration Site
This project will assist the Maple Plains Demonstration site and Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association in developing a Nutrient Management Plan and other sustainable agriculture practices. This sustainable agriculture site has been an excellent location for demonstrating BMPs to farmers and the general public.
||Liquid Manure Injection
Between 2003 and 2006, nine livestock farms demonstrated and evaluated manure injection during land application. This was compared to conventional manure broadcasting techniques on dairy and pork farms for corn, cereal and potato production.
Residue Management in Potato Production
Six demonstration sites have been established between 2004 and 2006. This long term study will investigate the effect of minimum tillage practices on common scab and rhizoctonia. Yield and quality of potatoes will be documented over several rotation cycles.
Livestock Fencing and Watering Program
Between 1990 and 2004 PEI Soil and Crop provided technical assistance to well over 600 projects in the design and implementation of livestock fencing and watering systems.
Foodtrust Potato Grower Verification
The PEISCIA is providing verification for the Foodtrust PEI Potato Grower Standard each year. Field staff verifies such things as field and storage records, soil conservation practices, nutrient management plans and so on.
PEISCIA's Soil Conservationist of the Year Award
The Annual Soil Conservationist of the Year Award is awarded each year to a deserving farm business. This prestigious award recognizes practices that conserve or protect soil, water and air resources. It is awarded at the PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association Conference.
Two agri-conversation clubs operated between 2003 and 2005 with 60 producers and two club coordinators. This successful pilot assisted producers with implementation of sustainable agricultural practices on their farm. Water quality and nutrient management were two of the highest priorities in the strategic plans developed by each club. The members of each club hired their club coordinator and developed a strategic plan. Each member also completed an environmental farm plan, providing further direction to the coordinator. Today the club remains as a volunteer group.