Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry are in Saskatchewan to learn about what farmers, ranchers, and researchers are doing to improve soil health.

One of the stops on Monday was the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn, the Dean of the College of Agriculture and BioSciences says it was a great opportunity to showcase some of the important research they're doing in this area.

"We're working with producers and with companies on two fronts, one on how do we measure soil health? You know, in terms of what are some of the key indicators of soil health? And within that, the other piece is calculating how can we measure it in a way that's rapid, cost-effective, and sensitive to change. So there are some things that we routinely measure, like total soil organic carbon, and that's an important measure of soil health. But it changes relatively slowly over time so we're looking for other indicators that are maybe a bit more sensitive to change on a shorter timeframe.  We're also working with companies that are developing new technologies for measurement that can be used in the field,  more rapid assessment tools. In some cases, the ability of those rapid measurement tools really requires building off of large datasets that have been collected with some of the more traditional or validated methodologies. "

They're also looking at some of the management practices that are being implemented maybe that are less like conservation tillage, and more on some of the regenerative agriculture practices things like intercropping, and cover cropping but getting more into why these practices work well and where they're likely to be more successful.

She says they're looking at providing scientific-based support for the widespread adoption of some of these emerging management practices, and are also digging down into soil biology.

"If the first Green Revolution was related to the invention of nitrogen fertilizer.  I think really understanding how soil micro-organisms, what can be done to encourage healthy soil microbiomes, to map and optimize that soil function is the next big thing. "

Bedard-Haughn also had an opportunity to talk about some of what's already being done around soil health by farmers and producers. 

She says we've got some of the some of the most sustainable agriculture around happening here in Saskatchewan.

"Things like reduced tillage, continuous cropping, those practices are already the norm here. Other places are like how could we encourage adoption of this, whereas we're well over 90- 95% adoption in Saskatchewan."

The Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry wrap up their visit to the province today before heading to Alberta to meet with farmers, ranchers, and researchers there.