The foundation of farming

Soil is the beginning of life on a farm. Without healthy soil, we can’t grow a productive crop and without crops, we can’t feed livestock.

Planting corn into a field using minimal tillage

Farmers used to work their soil every spring and fall in order to control weeds and prepare the fields for planting crops. This was called “tilling” the land. Now many farmers are tilling less, or not at all, in an effort to reduce soil erosion and soil compaction, preserve organic matter and promote the growth of earth worms and other soil-dwelling creatures. As referred to by farmers, “no tilling” also means farmers use less fuel, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, between 1991 and 2001, the use of these environmental practices by Ontario farmers jumped from 27% to 62%. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is equal to taking 45,400 cars of the road. Now that’s an improvement.

Did you know…

• In just four years, between 1990 and 1994, over 7,000 farmers changed their “tilling” practices on over 1.1 million acres of farm land. The trend has continued and nearly two-thirds of Ontario’s farmers have reduced their tillage. Now that’s good for the environment!

• Farmers also keep their soils healthy through crop rotation, a process by which they plant different crops each year in the same field. Rotating crops helps to improve or maintain soil fertility, reduce erosion, reduce the build-up of insects, weeds and other pests and minimize their need to use pesticides.

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