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Data Sources and Methods for the Risk to Soil and Water Quality from Agriculture Indicator

2. Description and rationale of the Risk to Soil and Water Quality from Agriculture indicator

2.1 Description

The Risk to Soil and Water Quality from Agriculture indicator is comprised of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC's) Soil and Water Quality Agri-Environmental Performance Indices which aggregate multiple indicators related to soil and water quality. They are derived from models and formulae that integrate data for soil, climate and landscape with data about crops, land use and land management.

Calculated for agricultural land in Canada, the indicators use a five-class rating system, which ranges from very low to very high risk. The soil organic carbon change indicator is classified based on magnitude and direction of change in organic soil carbon content, with large increases being preferred over large decreases. A performance index is calculated for each reporting year, based on a weighted share of land in each indicator class. Multi-indicator aggregations result in unit-less agri-environmental performance indices ranging from at risk performance (index value 0–19) to desired performance (index values of 80 or greater). The classification system and index scale are detailed in AAFC's Agri-Environmental Indicator Report Series – Report #4.

2.2 Rationale

The AAFC agri-environmental indicators, from which the Risk to Soil and Water Quality from Agriculture indicator is drawn, are designed to be a report card of agri-environmental performance for producers, consumers and the international community. They can be used to highlight areas where further efforts are required. They also provide valuable information that decision makers can draw upon when developing and evaluating agricultural policy. AAFC has set a goal to reduce risks to soil and water quality from farming to achieve the desired performance category in these two indices by 2030.

2.3 Changes since the last report

Data from 2011 have been added to the two indices.

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