Odette Menard, Regional Advisor, Soil Conservation, Canada

Odette has made a career of helping Eastern Canadian producers take a new look at how they manage their soil. She helps producers discover low-disturbance farming practices. Because zero-till is often seen in Quebec as a dry soil solution and, consequently, of limited value to the majority farming on wet soil, Menard has often had to make her case for zero-till from a perspective other than soil erosion. That has meant focusing on soil health, with her study of earthworms in soil reclamation being key. “I recommend the ‘one-five’ rule: one year for thinking about and strategizing a switch to zero-till and a five-year transition process to measure progress. You can’t expect to see dramatic improvements from zero-till after only a year.” 

Healthy Soils for Better Yields

Odette Menard loves soil and the science of soil. We know about soil degradation and we all agree that it does cost a lot economically and environmentally. But how can we change the system to improve it? What could be the steps to make the switch? First, we have to go back to the soil. Who is he? How can we define him? We have been talking about soil health for years, but it still has to become the first concern in our decision-making processes? For that, Odette believes we have to build our set of observations. By knowing our soils better, it will then be possible to choose the best strategies, the winning strategies to improve our agricultural system.