May 9, 2002
Topsoil Conservation project recognized
(National Soil Conservation Week April 16-22)

Saint-André, NB - The National Soil Conservation week is an important opportunity to recognize special community efforts in Soil Conservation. One such effort was recently recognized when a Topsoil Conservation Award Certificate was presented to principal Pam Campbell of the new Leo F. Hayes High School in Fredericton during the NB Horticultural Congress. On hand to make the presentation were Milton Sherwood, then Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Peter Forbes, MLA Fredericton North, representing the Minister of the Environment. The surrounding topsoil was conserved during the construction and landscaping of the new high school.

     Good topsoil forms very slowly in nature over thousands of years. Consequently, topsoil is essentially a non-renewable resource. Nonetheless, every year a considerable amount of the province's valuable and irreplaceable topsoil is removed or consumed in construction projects. Conservation of topsoil should be a public priority as well as a priority for New Brunswick agricultural and horticultural organizations.

     This topsoil conservation project was the first attempt in New Brunswick to recover and re-use topsoil from a wooded construction site. Normally, the recovered topsoil would have been buried as fill. In this topsoil conservation project, the topsoil was stripped from the site, stockpiled, screened and then re-used on the surface during landscaping. The topsoil recovered from under this forested site had a higher organic matter content and was superior in quality to any commercial available products in the Fredericton area.

     The project clearly demonstrated the economic and environmental benefits of topsoil conservation. It was estimated that the 15,000 cubic metres of recovered topsoil could represent savings of nearly one-third of the normal annual topsoil consumption in the area. The recovered material was of good quality and can be used for landscaping and would be a good base for lawns. A further benefit from the project was the invaluable experience gained in handling techniques and technical criteria for future topsoil conservation measures. It is now clear that topsoil from most new construction sites, even heavily wooded areas, can be cost-effectively recovered and re-used by using the proper site construction techniques for soil conservation. This successful topsoil conservation initiative was achieved due to the significant contributions made by each of the partners involved: High Design Inc., the general architects; Daniel K. Glenn Landscape Architects; Diamond Construction(1961) Ltd.; and Wetmore's Landscaping, Sod and Nursery.

     This special recognition was initially supported by the New Brunswick Horticultural Trades Association, the New Brunswick Soil and Crop Improvement Association (NBSCIA) and the Eastern Canada Soil and Water Conservation Centre (ECSWCC).