Good crops begin with soiled undies
Protecting Prince Edward Island’s world-famous soil is something John Hooper takes very seriously.
Hooper, who is the president of the PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association, was on hand to help two cabinet ministers bury white cotton underwear at Oyster Cove Farms in Hamilton, as part of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada's Soil Your Undies campaign.
The Island’s mineral-rich red fields are known for the precious and valuable crops that contribute mightily to the province’s economy, and this demonstration will highlight the importance of soil health and conservation practices.
The PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association is a local farm organizationthat focuses on soil conservation and soil quality for producing high valued farm products in a sustainable manner.
Ministers Alan McIsaac (Agriculture and Fisheries) and Robert Mitchell (Communities, Land and Environment) will return in a couple of months to dig up the briefs to see what condition the fabric is in. Hooper says he suspects nothing but the elastic waistbands will remain. A high level of decomposition will indicate a healthy and biologically active soil.
“If we take care of the soil, the soil will take care of us,” he said. “If you don’t take out more than you put in you have healthy soil.”
Hooper says proper crop rotation, and the addition of manure and fertilizers will strengthen root systems and soil quality.
Over the last number of years, there have been concentrated efforts by farmers and government to protect the Island’s soil through programs that fund soil conservation structures such as terraces, berms, and grassed waterways.
Promotion of beneficial practices such as strip cropping, winter cover cropping, residue management, and retiring sensitive land are all essential to preventing the erosion of rich topsoil from farmers’ fields.
Government’s balanced 2017-18 operating budget reflects this commitment to soil conservation. It continues investments in programs such as the Agriculture Stewardship Program, ALUS, Environmental Farm Plans, as well as innovative drone technology that allow islanders to get a better sense of our land composition in a fraction of the time.