Evolution of spatial indicators of soil health in Québec and Ontario in response to a changing climate

Marc-Olivier Gasser, researcher

Marc-Olivier Gasser

Researcher

418 643-2380
ext 650

Contact Marc-Olivier Gasser
Claude Bernard, associate researcher

Claude Bernard

Associate Researcher

418 643-2380
ext 406

Contact Claude Bernard

Description

The availability of arable land is limited in Québec and Ontario. With climate change and the intensification of farming, we will see a deterioration of soil health. The existing arable lands will experience increased production pressure as climate conditions shift to a new norm. Climate change will also spur the expansion of farming operations into regions where the climate is not currently conducive to cultivation. This will lead to the depletion of the soil’s organic matter content; the degradation of soil structure; an increase in erodibility; further runoff, erosion, and pollution of water bodies by sediments, nutrients, and pesticides; and an increase in CO2 atmospheric emissions. The intensification of farming activity will leave the soil even more vulnerable to degradation processes, which, in turn, will exacerbate the abovementioned effects. To mitigate the negative repercussions and ensure the future productivity of agricultural soils in Québec and Ontario, especially in areas where farming is currently limited, we must monitor the changes in soil health brought about by climate change and develop new soil conservation techniques accordingly.

Objective(s)

  • Improve our understanding of the evolution and spatial variability of soil health indicators as barometers of climate change. To achieve this we will study the spatial and temporal structures of soil properties, as they relate to organic matter, using databases derived from soil (from private laboratories), climate, and land-use analyses. We will employ a variety of modelling approaches throughout Québec and Ontario, including mathematical and machine learning modelling techniques.
  • Soil quality parameters like structural stability and soil erodibility will be derived from the organic matter content of the modelled soil. Using plots outfitted to assess erosion brought on by simulated rainfall, we will seek to verify and demonstrate the viability of existing soil conservation measures, which were designed to counteract the effects of land degradation due to climate change and intensified land use.

From 2018 to 2021

Project duration

Field crops

Activity areas

Soil health

Service

This project could help to enable agriculture in areas where the climate is not currently conducive to cultivation.

Partners

Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec | Université du Québec à Chicoutimi | University of Guelph | Ouranos

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