Earth Day Food for Thought: Farming for Conservation

The Credit River Watershed is a working landscape. Over 50 per cent of the land in the northern part of the watershed is farmland. Farmers provide us with food, fuel and fibre for clothing and other goods. They’re also active stewards of the land, working to protect and improve air, soil and water quality.

A green open field with bales of hay.
Hay field

How today’s farmers are restoring the landscape

Early settlers cleared almost every hectare of land in the watershed for crop production or livestock grazing. Plants and animals lost their habitats and intensive agricultural practices reduced soil health and increased soil erosion. Today’s farmers understand the role of soil nutrients, erosion prevention techniques and the importance of plant and animal habitat next to their farms. As this knowledge grows, farmers are changing their practices to work with nature, rather than against it.

Many are embracing the motto ‘farm where it makes sense.’ They’ve chosen to retire and restore areas that aren’t suited to farming. By allowing these areas to return to nature, it creates habitat for wildlife and improves the land they continue to farm.

In the past five years, farmers across the watershed have planted over 40,000 native trees and shrubs on their farm properties to restore habitat, protect soils, and improve water quality. They’ve also started using no-till farming techniques to prevent soil loss. In the past 20 years, the number of farmers in the watershed using no-till techniques increased by 249 per cent.

How we’re supporting farmers every step of the way

CVC’s Rural Water Quality Programs support farmers in their stewardship efforts. We provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers adopt best management practices that build soil health and support nature. This includes assistance with tree planting, manure management, installing erosion control structures and more. We’ve helped Watershed Farms transition to cover cropping to build soil health and Stonewell Lavender Farm replace invasive buckthorn with native trees and shrubs.

Learn how the Rural Water Quality Programs can support you. Contact our agricultural coordinator to discuss opportunities and funding for your farm projects.

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