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Island soil champion recognized for leadership


March 24, 2011
By Fruit & Vegetable

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March 22, 2011, Indian Head, Sask – A Prince Edward Island
conservationist has been honoured for his leadership in helping farmers
implement soil and water conservation practices to improve the Island’s
rural environment.

March 22, 2011, Indian Head, Sask – A Prince Edward Island conservationist has been honoured for his leadership in helping farmers implement soil and water conservation practices to improve the Island’s rural environment.

Ron DeHaan is the newest inductee into the Canadian Conservation Hall of Fame, an award that recognizes deserving Canadians for their outstanding contributions to soil and water conservation.

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DeHaan has spent his professional career with the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture helping farmers implement soil and water conservation practices such as residue management, hay/straw mulching, winter cover cropping, integrated soil conservation structures and nutrient management. Today many thousand acres of Island farmland are protected from soil degradation with a combination of diversion terraces, farmable berm structures, grassed waterways and strip cropping.

In the early 1990s, DeHaan introduced a minimum tillage practice for potato rotations to control erosion. The on-farm research showed residue management improved yields, reduced tillage costs and reduced the need for irrigation. Currently there is ongoing research to see if long tern high residue levels have any effect on tuber quality. His research and investigations on improved potato hilling and one pass tillage practices with “furrow dammers” to reduce erosion and runoff have been adopted by many P.E.I producers.

DeHaan also advocated for legislative and policy changes that would help both farmers and soil conservation. Examples include property tax relief for sensitive environmental lands and reduced crop insurance for farmers developing and implementing nutrient management plans. He has made soil and water conservation education and awareness a priority over his entire career and as a result he is a highly respected leader by P.E.I. producers.

“There’s no question that significant progress has been made on the soil and water conservation front over the past 25 years,” says Don McCabe, president of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada. “At the same time, there is still much more work required to address long term soil sustainability issues. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate soil champions such as Mr. DeHaan who represent the goals and success of the soil conservation movement.”