The best soil in Canada for agricultural purposes will surely vary depending on the province/territory. Farms in Canada are known to differ according to topography, soil type, and location (latitude). Only a small fraction (7 percent) of Canada’s land area is suitable for farming, and a good amount of this land is in Western Canada. Marginal (poor) lands are used to ranch beef cattle in the country. Certain crops like tomatoes, cannabis, and flowers are grown in greenhouses in urban centers.
According to reports, the size of the average Canadian farm has grown over time, while the number of farms has reduced as farmers and corporations expand their business by acquiring other farms. In 2016 alone, there were around 193,492 farms in Canada, and the average Canadian farm was about 800 acres (slightly over 3 km2). Some crop farms in Western Canada tend to span thousands of acres.
Most of Canada’s crop farming is in the Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). Alberta is renowned for the highest beef cattle operations of any province. Saskatchewan is renowned for its durum wheat, canola, and lentils.
Manitoba boasts massive amounts of pig farms and is second in potato production. While in British Columbia, farmers produce very sizable amounts of fruit, vegetables, aquaculture products, eggs, and poultry meat. It also has the highest number of grape growers.
Ontario is quite popular with poultry farms than any other province, but second in pig and dairy farms and boasts of the largest number of cannabis-growing operations. Ontario farmers also produce the highest amount of corn and apples in Canada.
Meanwhile, Quebec is the highest producer of blueberries in Canada and has the largest number of dairy farms and cows. In Atlantic Canada, farming is equally divided among crops and livestock (including aquaculture). Potatoes are a popular crop in this region, but they also have several large food product manufacturers in Atlantic Canada.
Best Agricultural Soils by Province/Territory in Canada
Just as it was noted above, different provinces in Canada have soils that are best suited for their climate and the crops they produce. Below is a simple breakdown of the best soil for agricultural purposes in some of the provinces in Canada.
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Guelph Soil remains the best soil for agricultural purposes in Ontario. It is grey-brown and it covers around 40,500 hectares of Ontario’s prime agricultural land base. Note that this soil is perfectly suited for growing hay, corn, and soybeans and is the foundation of the province’s agricultural economy.
In Manitoba, the newdale soil known to be black and fertile remains the best soil for agricultural purposes. It is a typical grassland soil, rich in organic matter, very ideal for cultivating canola and spring wheat.
Weyburn Soil is chocolate brown and the best soil for agricultural purposes in this territory. Note that this loamy soil is of the mixed-grass plains and is perfectly ideal for growing cereals, pulses, and oilseeds.
The best soil for agricultural purposes in Alberta is the grey Breton Soil. Note that this soil is perfectly suited to grow canola, forage, and other crops suited to the cool, moist climate.
The best soil for agricultural purposes in British Columbia is the Branham Soil well known to be yellowish-brown. This soil covers about 7,000 hectares of prime farmland in the Peace River Valley west of Fort St. John. Its floodplain location is well suited for growing spring wheat and canola.
The Yukon is well known for being the highest peak, largest ice field, smallest desert, and also the western-most point in Canada. The most fertile soil in Yukon is the champagne soil. This soil is brown and is the most common soil used for agriculture in the territory. It is located in the Takhini Valley west of Whitehorse and is perfect for planting grass, hay, and oats.
North West Territories
Hay River Soil is a brown fertile soil, more common within the North West Territories. It is located along the floodplain of the Hay River and is perfectly suited for planting hay and cool-season vegetables.
Better known as a massive, sparsely populated territory of northern Canada, forming most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Nunavut has no climate suited to agriculture. However, the most common soil in Nunavut is a type that remains frozen for much of the year while the subsoil remains permanently frozen. This soil is most often referred to as Cryosol.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador form the most easterly province of Canada and have a reputation for being friendly. The Cochrane Soil is dark reddish-brown and it is known to be the best soil for agricultural purposes in the region. When cleared of stones, it is perfectly suited for growing forages and root crops like potatoes, turnips, and cabbages.
Prince Edward Island
This is one of eastern Canada’s Maritime Provinces, off New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Have it in mind that the Charlottetown Soil known to be vivid red remains the best soil for agricultural purposes. As a fine sandy soil, it’s very suited for growing PEI’s famous potatoes.
Also known to be reddish-brown and with a high clay content that is good for growing forage crops that support the dairy and cattle sectors, the Queen’s Soil remains the best soil for agricultural purposes in Nova Scotia.
The biggest of Canada’s three Maritime Provinces, New Brunswick is renowned for its huge untouched wilderness, lobsters, and the mighty Bay of Fundy. There you’ll also find salmon-rich rivers, lush forests, and pristine beaches. The olive-brown Holmesville Soil remains the best soil for agricultural purposes in the region. Note that this fertile, low clay soil helps New Brunswick produce massive yields of crops like potatoes and barley.
Quebec is very popular for producing maple syrup, for its comedy, and for making hockey one of the most popular sports in Canada. The Sainte-Rosalie Soil, which is grey because of its clay content, remains the best soil in the territory and helps it retain water during dry periods. It is perfect for growing hay, corn, and soybeans.
Agriculture is a very important sector of Canada’s economy. In 2018 alone, there were 269,000 jobs in farming. Farmers in the country are known to supply the much larger food production and processing industries. Agriculture in Canada is varied and continues to change, and just like it was noted above, the best soil for agricultural purposes in Canada will depend on the province and many other natural factors.