Department of Soils and Agri-Food Engineerings
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Conservation and Restoration of Cultivated Organic Soils
Industrial Research Chairs program
Senior Chairholder since 2018
Cultivated organic soils are used primarily in horticultural fruit and vegetable production in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia. These soils are, however, sensitive to wind and water erosion and decompose quickly when used for cultivation. Major production areas are in danger of disappearing within the next 50 years unless drastic conservation and restoration measures are taken immediately. The overall goal of the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Conservation and Restoration of Cultivated Organic Soils is to ensure the sustainability of this critical resource for the Quebec and Canadian horticulture industry. The Chair’s specific objectives are to:
- Develop conservation and restoration methods for organic soils, including various mechanisms of degradation and erosion control to ensure food supply for future generations of Canadians;
- Acquire a thorough understanding of the effects on organic soils of applying various amendments, the expected impact of these interventions on compaction and drainage, and the physical, chemical and biological properties of these soils;
- Develop a comprehensive, dynamic soil management, conservation and restoration plan that incorporates wind erosion control and amendment management, while taking into account continuing changes to physical, chemical and biological properties to optimize these interventions over time and space as well as to optimize crop productivity.
The Chair’s activities will provide a unique and highly technological multidisciplinary environment that will significantly contribute to the training of highly qualified personnel for the market gardening sector.
In fact, the Chair will provide an opportunity for graduate students to acquire basic and practical training in hydrology, soil science and agricultural soil conservation. The results of the research will be integrated into software that will serve as a management and decision support tool for agricultural producers. Thus, the knowledge transfer and integration into a dynamic plan of localized interventions will allow rapid diagnosis in order to recommend targeted interventions.
The Chairholder, Jean Caron, has been a full professor in soil physics at Université Laval since 1991 and has published numerous scientific articles on the characterization of water and air movements in organic and mineral soils, in collaboration with the peat industry and the market gardening and ornamental horticulture sectors. He previously led the NSERC/Hortau Industrial Research Chair in Precision Irrigation from 2010-2016. In this term, the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Conservation and Restoration of Cultivated Organic Soils’ activities will benefit from partnerships with 14 market gardening businesses. Their solid experience in organic soil-based production will be put to good use, mainly in the search for solutions and the development of conservation and restoration practices that are realistic and can be applied in the field. The collaboration with these industrial partners will also enable undergraduate and graduate students to establish links between basic and applied research, as well as to participate in the effective transfer of research knowledge to the partners. In addition to training students, the Chair will greatly enhance soil research in the field of agri-food engineering and horticulture, by developing an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms for conserving and restoring organic soils and of the effectiveness of localized interventions based on precision agriculture. The knowledge gained will ensure the sustainability and productivity of organic soils, thus maintaining major production capital for the agri-food industry in Quebec and Canada. Furthermore, the scope of this large-scale project could extend beyond organic soils, as this project will lay the groundwork for an intelligent approach to the management, conservation and restoration of soil in general, be it mineral or organic.
- Delfland inc.
- Les Fermes R.R. et Fils inc.
- C. Isabelle & inc.
- La Production Barry inc.
- Le Potager Montréalais ltée
- Le Potager Riendeau inc.
- Les Fermes du Soleil inc.
- Les Fermes Hotte et Van Winden inc.
- Les Jardins A. Guérin et Fils inc.
- Maraîchers J.P.L. Guérin et Fils inc.
- Production Horticole Van Winden inc.
- Productions Maraichères Breizh inc.
- R. Pinsonneault et Fils ltée
- Vert Nature inc.
Department of Soils and Agri-Food Engineerings