Soil conservation in Saskatchewan – a research perspective
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Next to the economic plight of agricultural producers, soil degradation is the most topical subject among agriculturalists today. Soil degradation involves the destruction of soil resources by erosion, organic matter loss, salinization and soil acidification; usually as a result of agricultural mismanagement. This paper has attempted to highlight some of the current areas of research that are specifically designed to address these problems and has suggested specific areas that the author believes require immediate attention. Summerfallowing has been, and still remains the major cause of soil degradation in Saskatchewan. Although farmers have made a significant effort to reduce this practice in recent years, we still have scenes remindful of the "Dirty Thirties" every few years. Thus we need to move to even more extended cropping systems. This can only be done by adopting new technology such as snow trapping in the Brown and Dark Brown Soil Zones, zero, and minimum tillage, chemical fallow where we must fallow, and so on. In the long run, the farmer will only adopt these changes if they are economical and not too risky; thus the need for an accelerated research effort to provide farmers with answers as soon as possible. Such government-funded programs as FarmLab and ERDA are steps in the right direction.
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