The impact of soil importation on agricultural lands is a growing concern of Rocky View County (RVC) councillor Bruce Kendall and he wants a moratorium enacted until RVC takes a closer look at its impact and a course of action is devised.
Kendall has given a notice of motion to discuss the issue at the June 27 RVC meeting and says his concerns are rooted in feedback he has received from producers.
According to Kendall, the movement of soils on to agricultural lands in Rocky View County continues at near record levels and some farmers, working fields they don't own, believe it has reduced their yields
"The importation of supposedly better soil than is already on the existing site has not resulted in anything near the same yields that they were getting prior to the importation of soil," explains Kendall
"One gentleman I talked with has been farming a piece for five years and he still hasn't got back to the yields he was getting prior to the soil being imported. So we want to make sure we do what we can to maintain yields or enhance yields, not lower them."
Kendall explains companies offer landowners cash to take large quantities of soil and it can be in the neighbourhood of 50,000 tonnes and payments can reach the $50,000 to $100,000 range.
"Lots of clays and topsoils are being mixed so we have to figure out how we manage that situation in Rocky View."
Scientific research hasn't been completed on the potential harm of the imported soil at this point, but Kendall says he hopes it will follow should the county council support his motion. He believes they should be completing a better analysis of target sites and of the soil being imported to make sure it is of superior quality to the soil already there. He also believes the soil should be screened to remove rocks before being dumped.
"There are fields that you drive by that the only thing that's growing is rocks. So we want to be sure the product is superor to the soils that are there and increase the productivity of the parcels. We don't have a problem if it's consistently better."
Kendall's motion focuses strictly on agricultural zoned lands and excludes residential landscaping and soils required for construction and/or reclamation of manmade features.