Editor: Soil and water are not commodities, they are a sacred trust that we borrow from our children. For decades Islanders have watched the topsoil disappear and our wells become contaminated by the potato industry. For those of us raised on farms itâs not hard to tell who is taking care of the soil. Many farmers have made real efforts in the past few years to increase organic matter in their fields.
Here in Caledonia the topsoil used to wash down the hills and out onto the road in the spring. Thereâs been a lot of improvement in the last few years, cover crops, manure, proper rotation, sensible plowing on the hills. But not all farmers have made the effort and we continue to see annual fish kills and erosion across the island. Potato farmers donât need more water, they need to increase organic matter in the fields and make the best use of our rainfall. Healthy land retains water and goes a long way to protecting rivers and streams from toxic runoff.
In recent years the french fry market has demanded bigger and bigger potatoes to make bigger french fries. This puts even more demand on over taxed farm fields. Our water is already highly contaminated and our air is seriously compromised by spraying.
Islanders are simply not confident that the potato industry are good stewards of the land and water. The trust is not there. Weâve risked too much already. Besides, thereâs every indication that the water would be wasted in any case. Have you seen some of the existing irrigation flowing in the heat of the day when a great deal of the water is lost to evaporation? There was a reason our mothers taught us to water the garden in the evening. Itâs time to return to some common sense and not reward reckless farming practices with more of our precious water. I hope our MLAs have the courage to stand up to this agro-business lobby, protect their constituents, and make water and topsoil conservation a priority.