Inventory of Qu├ębec agricultural soil degradation problems

The inventory was conducted under the 1987-1990 Canada-Quebec Subsidiary Agreement on Agri-Food Development by the Soils Department, R&D Branch, at Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation. The main goal was to identify the factors responsible for the degradation of agricultural soil quality. It also sought to specify the nature and extent of the phenomena in each Québec agricultural region so as to take stock of the risks and guide the research and implementation of solutions related to compaction, the reduction of organic matter, the deterioration of soil structure, acidification, erosion, and contamination or pollution. 

The systematic inventory of the problems of degradation affecting Québec’s arable lands shows that 80% of the land remains in good health because the adapted forage production systems that are used do not degrade the soil. On the other hand, almost all the lands where annual monoculture is practiced are degraded, however not irreversibly. It is therefore an opportune time to implement appropriate preventive and improvement measures. These could vary according to the type of degradation and are generally straightforward and cost effective. Among other measures, this would involve reducing tillage, using low-pressure tires and double wheels; and the rational use of organic and inorganic soil amendments, slurry, pesticides, and mineral fertilizers. It goes without saying that crop rotation and good management of organic matter are essential to the conservation of our soil quality.

The results of the inventory work are published in a summary report and 12 regional reports. The summary report presents the overall situation currently prevailing in Québec, while the regional reports contain the numeric values corresponding to the physical and chemical properties for the majority of soil series studied in the 12 agricultural regions.