What is the business case for soil health practices? Regenerating soil ecosystems often pays dividends for both organic and conventional farmers. Hear advice and experiences from farmers Ken Laing and Jamie Richards as well as the findings of a new report, “Towards a Business Case for Soil Health: A Synthesis of Current Knowledge on the Economics of Soil Health Practices in Ontario”, from the Greenbelt Foundation and researchers at the University of Guelph. Find out what we know and don’t know currently about the economics of soil health on farms in Southern Ontario to aid decision-making by farmers. Using current research data and representative farm-level financial
models, the study determines a range of net returns from the adoption of different soil health practices, including tillage intensity, cover crops, diverse crop rotations, organic amendments, and rotational grazing. Incentives to support these practices are also discussed. Join two of the report authors, Dr. Aaron De Laporte and Paul Smith, along with organic farmers Ken Laing and Jamie Richards to hear about their experiences with the costs and benefits of soil health practices.
Paul Smith: Paul is a sustainable agriculture consultant engaged with the Greenbelt Foundation and lives in Guelph with his family. Paul worked for the Ontario government for 30 years at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and other ministries. He worked on a variety of agri-environmental topics including soil health, nutrient management, the Environmental Farm Plan, Federal-Provincial agricultural programs, and on-farm biodiversity. He holds degrees from the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo and is currently on the board of the Ontario Soil Network.
Jamie Richards: Jamie has managed Am Braigh Farm, a year-round market garden for the last 27 years. Inspired by the work of Eliot Coleman, he offers a range of vegetables year-round using minimal heat, relying on season extension techniques. Although using complex rotations and lots of compost, he has come to the realization that his on-farm sources of fertility are not adequate and his level of soil disturbance was not creating long term soil health. Now utilizing a range of regenerative practices, he has seen a dramatic improvement in soil structure, yields, and resilience to drought and rain events. The farm generated fertility is now showing significant economic returns.
Dr. Aaron De Laporte: Aaron is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. His research focuses on the economic and environmental effects of beneficial management practice adoption. He employs financial and economic analysis tools that integrate biophysical and spatial modeling. He has examined soil health, wetland conservation, bioenergy, nitrogen management and other practices in Canada and the United States. He is the co-author of 15 academic publications, along with numerous reports, including assessments of soil health and greenhouse gas mitigating practices with the Greenbelt Foundation and Farmers for Climate Solutions.
Ken Laing: Ken farms with his wife Martha and daughter Ellen at Orchard Hill Farm near St. Thomas, Ontario. Ken has a degree in Horticulture from the University of Guelph. In his 40+ years of farming he has grown a wide variety of field crops, small fruit and vegetables organically. For the last 3 years his farm has been a Living-Labs site for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and EFAO. This was EFAO’s horticulture site and Ken was developing no-till strategies for organic vegetables.
Purchasing this product will give you access to a recording of this session from the 2023 Guelph Organic Conference.