Much has changed on the Ontario soil conservation front since 1987. No-till farming has been firmly entrenched, most farms in the province now proudly tout their own Environmental Farm Plan, and soil health is recognized as key to a $13 billion food economy that fuels 800,000 jobs.
It’s a 30-year journey that Harold Rudy captures in his new book entitled The Soil Fixers: Land Stewards Committed To The Cause. In this edition of the RealAg Bookclub podcast, Rudy, who recently retired from his position as executive director of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), shares his front-seat view of the evolution of OSCIA. From fledgling roots dating back to 1939, the organization and its members now play an important role in shaping a sustainable future for farming and food production in the province.
Along the way, Rudy chronicles the contributions made by a host of soil fixers starting with the Ontario government’s 1987 Land Stewardship Program, which backed the need for soil conservation and ponied up $40 million to make it happen. Kudos also go to a committed and enthusiastic Ontario ministry of agriculture staff who persevered through a radical, late-1990s redraft of the province’s farm extension model. And, of course, there’s high praise for farmers, partnering farm organizations and OSCIA members who brought grassroots commitment, innovation and a willingness to embrace change, to the cause.
RealAg Bookclub host Bernard Tobin and Harold Rudy discuss The Soil Fixers. Story continues after interview.
Rudy also shares his vision for the future. There’s still plenty of soil fixing to be done and he says it will take a renewed commitment from government, the continued perseverance of farmers, and science and technology to get the job done.
You can order copies of The Soil Fixers directly from FriesenPress.