The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association Celebrates National Soil Conservation Week
April 21 – 27 2019
National Soil Conservation Week, championed by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC), is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of healthy soil resources to OSCIA members, participants in OSCIA-administered programs, and all Ontarians. “Promotion of soil health and conservation is at the forefront of OSCIA’s applied research priorities, our partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), our recognition of Soil Champions, and our administration of cost-share programs supporting soil health-enhancing best management practices,” says Andrew Graham, Executive Director at OSCIA.
OSCIA and OMAFRA help support producer-led efforts to investigate soil conservation practices through the Applied Research Grants (Tier 2). Current applied research projects looking at innovative solutions to common soil health barriers include Compaction Recovery with Cover Crops in Bruce County, Roots Not Iron 2 in the Thames Valley, and Soil Health Related to Yields in the St. Clair region. Graham points out that “The outstanding contributions of Ontario farmers and researchers are further recognized by OSCIA’s annual naming of a Soil Champion: an individual effectively advocating for sustainable soil management practices in Ontario.” Nominations for 2020’s Soil Champion are currently open.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) is a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector and increase its competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability, including through enhancement of soil health. The OSCIA administers the Partnership’s cost-share funding to Ontario producers. For 2019-2020, two cost-share programs continue to be available for producers: the province-wide Environmental Stewardship program and the geographically targeted Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS) program. Key outcomes within both programs include enhancing soil health and water quality. Costshare
opportunities are now available under project categories including Nutrient Management and Soil Health Planning, Cover Crops, Windbreaks and Wind Strips, Erosion Control Structures, Tillage and Nutrient Application Equipment Modifications, Equipment Modification to Reduce Soil Compaction, and Adding Organic Amendments. The OSCIA is accepting applications until May 6, 2019 under the province-wide program, while the LEADS program for producers in the Lake Erie and St Clair watersheds is a merit-based, continuous application intake. LEADS supports producers to implement on-farm improvement projects to improve soil health and to address phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie. LEADS is currently accepting applications until the program is fully allocated.
OSCIA is also pleased to partner with SCCC, St. William’s Nursery and Ecology Centre, and Pollinator Partnership Canada to deliver Syngenta’s program Operation Pollinator. Soil health is intrinsically linked to above and below ground biodiversity, which also promotes populations of pollinators. Through Operation Pollinator’s support for offsetting land and seeding it with a diverse mix of wildflowers, pollinators and soil health are enhanced hand-in-hand.
“OSCIA’s commitment to providing educational opportunities based on stewardship principles, engaging and supporting innovative producers through applied research, administering cost-share support for soil health BMPs, and partnering with soil health advocates, means National Soil Conservation Week is an important time for our association.” says Les Nichols, OSCIA President “The efforts of SCCC and the OMAFRA keep us looking forward for ways to inspire producers ongoing commitment to soil conservation practices in Ontario.”
Angela Straathof, Program Director, OSCIA