P.E.I. is largely dependent on crops as the driver of our economy.
Crops need nutrient rich soil to grow.
So let’s do the math.
Bad soil, plus bad crops, equals no money for us.
Which is… really bad.
Three recent court cases involving the province’s Crop Rotation Act have again brought up the issue of soil conservation on this little Island.
The cases involve a farmer and two companies from Prince County. Two of the cases have been settled, resulting in more than $27,000 in fines being handed out.
The parties were accused of planting potatoes in a field more than once in a three-year period.
That law is in place to help protect P.E.I.’s soil from nutrient degradation.
Really, it’s just common sense agriculture that anybody who plants a garden should understand.
Honestly, go ahead and buy any beginner gardening book and we guarantee there will be a chapter on rotating vegetable crops for better yields.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so follow them with root vegetables that don’t need as many nutrients and so on.
Unfortunately, traditional Island agriculture has relied less on rotation and more on using large quantities of fertilizers.
But we’ve been pumping nutrients into our soil at a slower pace than our crops have been sucking them out.
A study prepared by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry in 2012 on the Island’s soil nutrient status over the past 15 years concluded that not enough is being done to stave off soil degradation.
The study recommended more research into the matter but was pretty clear about our current rotation rates being insufficient.
To make matters worse, the province has said it doesn’t have the resources to seriously police crop rotations and God knows how many other rules and regulations that are in place for a reason.
So who knows how many farmers actually rotate their crops on a three-year rotation like they’re supposed to.
We’d like to think that most do. They should certainly know better than anyone the importance of doing so.
But there’s always room for improvement.
This is too important of an issue to dismiss. Our economic future, our very food security depends on it.