It’s been eighteen months. Eighteen months since students stepped foot here on the Guelph campus, eighteen months since I had a London Fog in the Summerlee Science Complex, eighteen months since I’ve been on a yellow bus.

Last week that all changed.

Students are back, I got my London Fog, and I hopped on a yellow bus to join Richard Heck’s fourth-year soil classification class on four days of field excursions surveying soils across Southern Ontario. Weaving back and forth across the Grand River, getting our hands dirty in the Haldimand clays, Norfolk sands, and Dundalk till plains – the stark contrasts make one appreciate the incredible range of landscape diversity in this province.

It reminds me that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for soil management. Strategies that work well in one region – even on one operation – won’t always translate to others.

Over the weekend I finished reading climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe’s new book Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. In it she tells the story of meeting a fellow scientist, Tom, who didn’t agree with the conclusions she was arriving at from the climate change data. But despite being unconvinced by the science, Tom was still taking steps to live a climate-smart lifestyle.

Katharine remarks:

“We don’t really have to agree on the science, as long as we agree on something that matters more.”

Katharine Hayhoe, Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.

Finding that “more”, that higher value that we share in common, is what’s needed to build bridges and work together for a better future.

And the same goes for soil health and management. The science is critical, but facts won’t win us friends. Your neighbours, colleagues, and relatives might not share your concerns about caring for the land. But because soil health impacts so many areas of our lives – reliably stocked grocery stores, swimmable lakes, clean drinking water – there’s likely “more” that they do care about that you can bond over.

Build bridges, and stay grounded.

Cam Ogilvie
Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator, SOILS AT GUELPH


Richard Heck
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