Submitted by: OSCIA provincial office

Visit to learn about the positive impact to water quality of OSCIA delivered funding programs in the Lake Erie Basin between 2005 and 2018.

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) has played a key role in the delivery of agri-environmental land stewardship programming in Ontario since the late 1980s. OSCIA has delivered a variety of sustainability focused cost-share programs through its province-wide connection to farmers. Through these programs, farmers have completed tens of thousands of voluntary BMP projects to improve water quality on their farms.

Water quality has been at the heart of many of these programs. A combination of education, financial incentives and technical assistance provides farmers with resources to identify and address a variety of environmental issues and risks that are specific to the farm. Changing land use practices such as minimizing tillage, retaining crop residues, preventing runoff and improving nutrient-use efficiency often work in tandem across multiple BMP focus areas. The evaluation of past program participation provides a unique opportunity to tell a story of water quality actions by farmers across the Lake Erie basin.

This report analyzed program participation between 2005 and 2018, compiling thousands of water quality BMP projects that were completed with the help of OSCIA-delivered cost-share programs. These programs are funded by a range of sources including federal-provincial-territorial funding agreements and other provincial ministries. This work builds upon previous retrospective data analyses and other past and ongoing research studies that have utilized cost-share program data to identify BMP adoption trends across all phases of program delivery.

The data provides a big picture look at what’s been done, and how individual BMP actions are collectively addressing water quality issues in the Lake Erie basin. This report also aims to help the agricultural sector to assess progress in meeting phosphorus reduction targets, and inform the development of future environmental stewardship programs that are focused on water quality improvements in this region.

Many programs were delivered during this thirteen-year period, and each program supported hundreds of farmers in addressing environmental risks. These programs are just one of many tools in the region that are helping to accelerate environmental action in support of Lake Erie’s ecological health and resiliency.

This project was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, as part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

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