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Inventory of Quebec soil degradation problems published

The results of an inventory of soil degradation problems in Quebec were published in a report released in November of 1990 by the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture. Continuous cropping (corn, cereals and potatoes) were associated with a decrease in soil organic matter, compaction, soil acidification and deterioration of the soil structure. The following table outlines what percentage of the land in intensive row cropping (485,790 ha) was experiencing each type of soil degradation.

Deterioration in soil structure 90% Over-fertilization 60b Loss of organic matter 50% Soil acidification 50% Compaction 20% Contamination/heavy metals 10% Water erosion 10 % Wind erosion 6%

It is interesting to note that the phenomena most associated with soil degradation (water/wind erosion, compaction) were not the most common. Types of degradation that are less thought of, such as soil acidification and over-fertilization were occurring in 50% and 60% respectively of the monoculture field. Over fertilization, was occurring particularly in the case of P and K. The percentage of degradation due to soil structure deterioration probably includes some of the land experiencing soil organic matter losses, compaction and erosion.

The study was based on 2 million hectares of land containing 400 different soil types.

Source: Inventaire des problemes de degradation des sots agricoles du Ouebec, MAPAO pub.# 90-130156.

Copyright 1991 REAP Canada

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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