To mark this year’s World Soil Day, the governments of Canada and Ontario are launching a $5.75 million, multi-year project to help Ontario farmers enhance water quality, improve soil health, strengthen environmental stewardship, and better protect the environment.

The On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM) project will support a host of new activities to be carried out with Ontario farmers and other partners to make Ontario’s agri-food sector greener and more competitive.

“On World Soil Day, we recognize the vital importance of water quality and soil health for farmers today and in the future,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food, and rural affairs. “Through the ONFARM project, we’ll help farmers continue their environmental stewardship efforts and work to grow their businesses sustainably.”

Funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, ONFARM will build on environmental stewardship achievements in the agricultural sector by:

  • Working with farmers to gain evidence and awareness of how to improve water quality, productivity, and soil health.
  • Developing a comprehensive, science-based method to measure soil health in Ontario.
  • Measuring the effectiveness and impact of agricultural best management practices aimed at reducing nutrient run-off on farms.
  • Establishing applied research and monitoring sites to facilitate peer-to-peer knowledge transfer and capacity-building among industry professionals.

“Canadian farmers are responsible stewards of the land, and our government is working side-by-side with them to improve soil and water quality and take action against climate change.” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food. “These new initiatives will help farmers ensure the environmental sustainability of their farms for generations to come.”

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The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) will deliver the programming for the governments through to the end of the Partnership in 2023. ONFARM will build on other environmental protection initiatives supported by the Partnership and delivered by the OSCIA, such as the Environmental Farm Plan and the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability initiative.

“OSCIA is very excited to be part of this long-term soil health and water quality research project,” said Les Nichols, president of OSCIA. “We applaud plans for a coordinated network of sites across the province that will involve farmers in project development and management decisions. It’s a terrific example of the seek-test-adopt philosophy that guides our on-farm applied research efforts.”

ONFARM also supports and leverages other related actions with industry targeting improved soil health, such as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program and the pending work of the Ontario Soil Action Group.

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