There is an increasing interest in the link between soil health, plant health and ultimately food quality. Society is also concerned with carbon both in the air and soil. Since carbon and soil health are very closely connected, management practices that improve carbon sequestration will result in healthy soil and nutritious food products.
The status and functionality of soil should be measured not only by its chemical (fertility) properties but also for its physical and biological properties. Chemical components of soil have been intensively evaluated by commercial soil testing labs in Canada. Chemical fertility recommendations have been based on this knowledge. The role of soil biology, however, is not well understood and physical characteristics have not been monitored. Evaluation of biological soil characteristics has only become available during the past few years in laboratories in the United States and more recently eastern Canada. The existing biological labs do not base analysis and recommendations on parameters specifically related to Alberta soils. CARA’s Soil Health Lab, under the direction of Dr. Yamily Zavala, provides a unique service in evaluating soil health constraint indicators. A biological and physical baseline developed within the province will provide a framework that can help define strategies for managing and improving the productive capacity, and sustainability, of our soils. A diverse micro-biological underground community may contribute to an overall healthier soil, including improved carbon sequestration. Improved aggregation stability will also contribute to enhanced carbon levels in the soil. Healthy soils produce healthy plants resulting in a higher quality food product.
CARA collects and analyzes the data and will produce a final report in 2023.
Check back in 2022 for this section.
Soil Benchmarking Plot Shots July 27, 2020