Farms of the Future – Evaluating the impacts of regenerative farming practices on soil biodiversity

Complex communities of bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates are known to be involved in the preservation and enhancement of soil fertility, nutrient cycling, crop productivity, and carbon sequestration, but the details have been lacking. This knowledge gap can now be addressed through new methods, such as DNA metabarcoding, which make it possible to monitor the diversity and dynamics of entire soil communities. McCain Foods Ltd., a global producer of potato products, launched its ‘Farms of the Future’ project in early 2020 to demonstrate the scalability and economic viability of regenerative farming practices that protect both soil health and biodiversity, factors key to the sustainability of potato production. A 400-acre farm in New Brunswick was acquired to test conventional farming practices against regenerative methods such as green manure, rotational livestock grazing, and strip cropping. By using metabarcoding to quantify the impacts of different agricultural practices on soil organisms, my research will identify practices that foster biological communities that enhance soil productivity. While my results will be important to McCain Foods, they will have broader impacts on the long-term vitality of Canada’s agricultural sector by advancing understanding of factors influencing soil biodiversity and the practices that regenerate and protect it.

Faculty Supervisor:

Paul Hebert


Michelle Lynn D'Souza


McCain Foods






University of Guelph



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