Blowing soil concerning, 'disappointing' for P.E.I. farmers

Recent high winds and lack of snow mean precious topsoil is blowing off P.E.I. farm fields.

The results are another sign of the difficulty farmers faced this season, says the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.

"I think when they see that on their own field they are probably very disappointed. That is a resource that they are paying top dollar for," said executive director Robert Godfrey.

'Killing frost'

Late-autumn rains led to a late potato harvest — then cold, snowy weather arrived early, making made it tough for farmers to plant cover crops that protect fields and restore soil nutrients.

Laura Meader/CBC

Some fields were planted in cover crops that didn't survive.

"There were cover crops planted that either were killed early in September with that killing frost we had September 24," said P.E.I. Potato Board general manager Greg Donald.

"There's other cases they were seeded and didn't germinate."

'The last thing you want to see'

Donald said the blowing soil can be disappointing for farmers to watch.

Laura Meader/CBC

"They are investing a lot of energy and resources to building their soil and improving their soil, and the last thing you want to see is some of it being blown away," Donald said.

The lack of snow also means there's no protective layer over the soil. 

A dirt buildup had to be cleared recently from Route 112, the Searletown Road in Bedeque by road crews  The Department of Transportation said in a email to CBC that it was not normal for so much topsoil to blow onto the road from nearby fields.

Researching better ways

The extreme weather is making it harder for farmers to avoid problems like these, said Godfrey.

Laura Meader/CBC

"With the climate change that we keep experiencing here, the more we can do to keep that soil in the field the better," Godfrey said. 

The Federation of Agriculture says it is doing extensive research into soil protection and hopes to increase educational supports for farmers in the future. 

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