Agriculture

Old tractor in a field

Northumberland County partners with the local agriculture community to educate, advocate and promote agriculture as an economic driver in Northumberland. 

Northumberland County is known for having high quality farmland, over 31% (146,296 acres) of the land in the County is protected agricultural land, of which 67% is considered prime agricultural land (between soil classes 1 and 3). Over 28% of County’s agricultural land is identified as Class 1 soils with no significant limitations for growing crops.

 The rich soil located in Northumberland makes a large portion of the county land base optimal for agricultural use and one of the defining characteristics of the area is the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Moraine is composed of irregular ridges stretching 160 kilometres from the Trent River in the east to the Niagara Escarpment in the west.

The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing describes the Moraine as a unique concentration of  environmental, geological and hydrological features that make its ecosystem vital to south-central Ontario, including:

  • clean and abundant water resources;
  • healthy and diverse plant and animal habitat;
  • an attractive and distinct landscape;
  • prime agricultural areas. 

With heat units ranging from 2900 in the south end to 2700 on the northern edge, Northumberland farmers enjoy an ideal climate for dozens of crops. The ideal climate is a factor influencing some impressive Regional performance statistics:

  • Apple production in Northumberland makes up 6% of the provincial acreage marking an increase of 4.4%  growth in the industry since 2011
  • 2.5% of the provinces raspberry crop production is found in Northumberland at 17 acres, while our 50 acres of strawberries harvested each year make up 1.7% of Ontario’s acreage.
  • Northumberland produces approximately 3.46% of the provinces mixed grains, 2.82% of the province's alfalfa, and 2.26% of Ontario's oats
  • Bio-products, such as hemp, have proven well suited to the growing conditions in Northumberland County
  • Northumberland County has doubled the amount of Honey Bee farms from 22 farms reporting in 2011 to 45 farms in 2016 and currently maintains approximately 3% of Ontario’s Honeybee Colonies
  • A fledgling Beverage Farming industry has taken hold in Northumberland County with several small brewers in the area. Northumberland County, through the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre (OAFVC) has invested in a Hops Pelletizing Machine, and works with of the Ontario Hops Growers Association to promote hops production by engaging and attracting land owners who might be interested in new and value-added crop ideas.

 Northumberland’s farmer crop rotation practices ensure annual variability in the major field crops identified in the county. Soybean is a major field crop in Northumberland County, harvested from a total of 42,048 acres of farmland in 2016. Hay is a close second in major field crops, with 40,037 acres planted in 2016. Interestingly, potato farming has shown a significant increase in the county with 53 acres reported in 2011 and 346 acres in 2016, demonstrating a 500% increase in this crop in Northumberland.

Northumberland County also offers agri-food and business services including food processing and packaging services at the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre and business support from the Business & Entrepreneurship Centre Northumberland.