May 7, 2021 / 0 Comments

The Hidden Power of Healthy Soil: Saving Canadian Agriculture from Climate Crisis

New Research by Greenbelt Foundation and Équiterre Uncovers Barriers to Achieving Soil Health

Toronto, March 1st, 2021 – Greenbelt Foundation and Équiterre have released a new report—The Power of Soil – An Agenda for Change to Benefit Farmers and Climate Resilience—which illustrates how healthy soils will help the country’s farmers adapt to climate change and play an even larger role in addressing the climate crisis. https://www.greenbelt.ca/the_power_of_soil

Building on previous work, the Power of Soil report offers a comprehensive overview of Canada’s current agri-environmental policy, provides practical solutions, and bridges existing knowledge gaps.”

Thriving soil ecosystems build productivity, fertility and biodiversity, resulting in better water retention, less dependency on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and bigger margins for farmers. In order to realize these benefits, however, shifts are required in farm practices.

“We know from farmers how important soil health is and that there are often barriers to adopting new practices that address current challenges,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of Greenbelt Foundation.

“Voluntary implementation of new practices can involve investments by farmers, specialized knowledge, and understanding of the business case for an individual farm operation. Through this project, we’ve identified public policy and funding solutions for governments that will help Ontario and Canadian agriculture be a leader in production, profitability, and climate resilience.”

Building on previous work, the Power of Soil report offers a comprehensive overview of Canada’s current agri-environmental policy, provides practical solutions, and bridges existing knowledge gaps. Report findings result from hard work, wisdom, and consensus building among leading agricultural organizations, advisory committees, and other actors from two of Canada’s most important food-producing regions: Ontario and Quebec. Contributors include the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, National Farmers Union, academics from the University of Guelph, and Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, among other leading groups and individuals.

Challenges and Solutions – Be it extreme weather, resistance to herbicides and pesticides, or debt: the challenges are numerous and mounting for farmers. Extreme weather events, like the 2001 and 2002 droughts or the 2010 and 2011 floods, had devastating impacts on crop yields. Future events could lead to a reduction of 50% in annual yields. Change is not only preferable; it is necessary—and soil health should become a catalyst it.

“Improved soil health is a win-win-win for farms’ viability, the planet, and people,” says Colleen Thorpe, Executive Director at Équiterre. “This natural solution truly is an underestimated tool with which we can face many of the challenges that threaten our food security. We really hope it becomes less and less secret and that our report draws a roadmap for it to become mainstream.”

The report highlights innovative policies and programs, like the creation of a “National Soil Health Network,” a national soil health “check-up tool,” and soil health training programs for advisors and farmers. Some best management practices are already common in Canada: reduced tillage, planting diverse cover crops, and keeping living roots in soil all year round. The challenge now is to get more farmers to use these techniques and support ongoing innovation and knowledge-sharing.

“Agricultural soil health is directly connected to the food production system and economic growth in Ontario,” said Drew Spoelstra, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Vice President. “Investment in environmental best management practices is a key driver for farmers as effective stewards of the land, as they work to promote soil health initiatives on their farms. Making soil health a priority improves profitability, productivity, and protects the environment at the same time.”

–30–

For the full backgrounder, click here.

About Greenbelt Foundation:
Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario’s Greenbelt is the world’s largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.

Greenbelt Foundation Media Contact:
Michael Young
Communications Advisor
Greenbelt Foundation
(416) 960-0001 x 311
media@greenbelt.ca

https://www.greenbelt.ca/news_release_power_of_soil

Greenbelt Foundation Social Media:
Instagram: @ongreenbelt
Twitter: @greenbeltca
Facebook: Ontario Greenbelt

May 7, 2021 / 0 Comments

GHSCIA Seeks operators for Boron & Envita Trials on Corn

Hello All, 

As many of you know the last year has been tough for both finances and member engagement throughout Soil and Crop. Recently at our AGM we received notice that a large portion of our government funding has been cut for 2021 and along with it the funding for many of our trial projects. As an initiative to boost member engagement and get back to our roots of “Seek, Test, Adopt” we would like to invite you to try something new on farm this year and collaborate with GHSCIA to share your trial results.  

For 2021 we are focusing on 2 products: Envita and Boron on corn. Please note, we are not trying to reinvent the wheel here, our goal is to collect and analyze results across an unbiased platform. These are trials that many of our members are conducting already on their own – some may already be in the ground! We have been working with Jake Munroe from OMAFRA to put together a plot protocol that would allow us to amalgamate results and get reliable statistics at the end of the season. We would like to challenge you to join us in this endeavor. We think it would be an excellent opportunity to get some consistent cross-county data on a couple products that have generated a lot of interest over the last year or two. Although this committee is based out of Golden Horseshoe we want to encourage members from across the province to collaborate. The more cooperators we have the greater a success this will be. If successful we are hoping to use this method to analyze more trial data in the future.

What would this cooperation look like? 

  1. Each county would be responsible for their own trials. This would include sourcing cooperators, product expenses, site information and harvest data. Due to the tight budget OSCIA is on this year it is highly unlikely there will be any funding available for these projects. We would like to take a self-sufficient approach on this and such are targeting growers who already are doing these trials on their farms, just trying to unify the plot layout and collect data at the end of the season. 
  2. There will be 2 methods of application for each product – Envita as an in-furrow treatment or foliar spray, and Boron as a liquid fertilizer (such as Nitro-B from Axter) applied with nitrogen or as a granular fertilizer. We would like to avoid foliar applications of Boron as there are too many products on the market to generate reliable results. Please note that if you are using a combination product such as Aspire, your check strips will need to have equivalent K applied – otherwise the results could measure potassium not boron response.  
  3. We ask that you stick to the plot layouts wherever possible. In order to get reliable data we need repetition. Jake has proposed a minimum of 2 randomized replications per site. However if you only have one replication don’t let that deter you from signing up!  
  4. At the end of the year, you would submit your results to ghsciadata@gmail.com in a survey that includes field history, timing/methods of application, in season notes and final yield results. Harvest data analysis will be the responsibility of the cooperator as we will not have the funding and/or manpower to process raw data.  
  5. We will present results at the 2022 AGMs for the counties involved, giving members in attendance first access to trial results that reflect both province wide and county specific findings. 

If you are interested in participating this year please email ghsciadata@gmail.com with your contact information and the trial you are interested in participating in and we will reach out to you to get started. 

Thank you, 

Golden Horseshoe Soil and Crop Improvement Association 

Please find the trial  protocols for Envita and Boron trails below:

 

Response to EnvitaTM in corn: 

on-farm trial protocol for OSCIA summary project, 2021 

Envita is a naturally occurring, food grade microbe – Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus – marketed by Azotic. It is promoted to form a beneficial relationship with the host plant and provide nitrogen to every cell in the plant, foliage and root system, throughout the growing season.  

Objective: Determine corn yield response to Envita across a range of soil types in the Golden Horseshoe SCIA region using standard nitrogen application rates.  

Eligibility requirements:  

  • Corn crop for 2021  
  • A relatively flat, uniform field 
  • Single hybrid to be grown  
  • Uniform nitrogen rate across field  

Trial information:  

  • Treatments: 
    • Check – no Envita applied (normal nitrogen rate)  
    • With Envita (normal nitrogen rate)  
    • Optional: with Envita (lower than normal nitrogen rate, e.g. 80-100 lbs/acre N)  
  • 2 replications minimum: field length strips (minimum 200 m), randomized (see example below)  
  • Timing of application: 
    • Envita applied at recommended rate at seeding (with low salt pop-up fertilizer) or as foliar at V2-V6 stage  
  • Each treatment to be one or more widths of Envita applicator – e.g. planter or sprayer. Must be as wide or wider than combine header.  

Data collection  

  • Yield and moisture of all strips for both the Envita-treated and check treatments by weigh wagon or calibrated yield monitor. Statistics will be performed on data and provided to cooperating farmers.  

Important notes  

  • Envita must be applied the day it is opened (within 12 hours)  
  • Avoid tank mixing with Group 4 herbicide if foliar applied  

Useful background information (to be collected by online form)  

  • Crop rotation history (past 3 years minimum)  
  • Recent soil test if available  
  • History of manure and/or organic amendment  

Example plot design. Randomization of treatments is just an example and should vary at each site. 

Response to boron in corn: 

on-farm trial protocol for OSCIA summary project, 2021 

Objective: Determine corn yield response to boron fertilization across a range of soil types.  

Eligibility requirements:  

  • Corn crop for 2021  
  • A relatively flat, uniform field  
  • Single hybrid to be grown  
  • *coarse-textured, low organic matter or fine-textured, low organic matter sites are preferred  

Treatments  

  • The on-farm strip trials will be a simple with and without boron trial that will be replicated in a grower’s field.  
  • Treatments:
    • Check – no boron: 0 lb/ac B 
    • With boron: 0.5 lb/acre B  
  • 2 replications minimum: field length strips (minimum 200 m), ideally randomized (see example below)  
  • Boron source: 
    • Liquid or granular; no foliar  
  • Timing of application: 
    • Side-dress timing preferred  
    • Pre-plant or late-season application also possible  
    • B should be applied with nitrogen  
  • Each treatment to be one or more widths of boron applicator, e.g. sprayer, spinner-spreader. Must be as wide or wider than combine header.  

Data collection  

  • Yield and moisture of all strips for both the boron-treated and check treatments by weigh wagon or calibrated yield monitor. Statistics will be performed on data and provided to cooperating farmers.  

Useful background information (to be collected by online form)  

  • Crop rotation history (past 3 years minimum)  
  • Recent soil tests if available  
  • History of manure and/or organic amendment use  

Example plot design. Randomization of treatments is just an example and should vary at each site. 

May 6, 2021 / 0 Comments

Tier One Funding Now Available

OSCIA is pleased to announce that Tier One funding is currently available for projects completed between April 1-September 30, 2021. Funding is available through the local or regional associations for projects that align with OSCIA research priorities, encourage grassroots innovation, serve to educate, and help build awareness of Ontario agriculture.

The Tier One Grant is able to support such local and regional projects such as educational activities, field days, guest speakers, seed fairs, in-field demonstrations and in-field trials. The emergence of virtual tours over the last year has proven a new avenue to be able to reach more individuals than ever before.

Local and Regional associations can apply for a maximum of $1,500 with the current Tier One funding, up to a maximum of $25,000 across all local/regional associations. This funding is currently available for projects with a start date after April 1 and must be wrapped up by September 30, 2021. Additional funding may be available after this time. Applications are approved based off a first-come, first-served basis.

Check out the OSCIA website for summaries of past projects https://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/association-association-membership-grants-tier-one-2018-2021-tier-one-grant-summaries/.  To highlight one project from early 2020, Norfolk hosted a Road Safety Grower Day. During the event, Officers from the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Provincial Police made a presentation regarding updated regulations to the Highway Traffic Act and how this relates to farm equipment and their operators. Norfolk was able to increase their membership by 14 through hosting this event.

Local and Regional Associations are encouraged to visit our website for more information on how to apply (https://www.ontariosoilcrop.org/association/association-membership/grants/tier-one/).

May 5, 2021 / 0 Comments

Riparian Buffer Strip Research Videos

OSCIA was one of the many collaborators involved in a project to advance research on the role of riparian buffers in relation to carbon sequestration and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  The project was led by Dr. Naresh Thevathasan at the University of Guelph and was funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP).

Five videos were created to highlight the benefits of riparian buffers as a best management practice and to show the range and impact of research that is being undertaken on the role of riparian buffers in relation to carbon sequestration, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, and soil health. These videos can be found at https://www.osciaresearch.org/ecosystem-services/

In addition to highlighting many researchers, these videos feature Wellington SCIA members Liz and Reg Samis, Bruce Whale and Waterloo SCIA member Robert Shuh. They are all great spokespeople for agricultural stewardship.

OSCIA also worked with Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) on a survey of landowners who planted riparian buffers on their farms. If you interested in the report or a pre-recorded presentation on the findings contact:

Tracey Ryan

Applied Research Coordinator

Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association

tryan@ontariosoilcrop.org

May 4, 2021 / 0 Comments

OSCIA Launches Pilot Project Aimed at Increasing Soil Health on Farms

The Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) invites farmers in three counties to accelerate up their soil health game through a pilot project available this summer.

Producers in Lambton County, Renfrew County and Simcoe County will have the opportunity to apply for cost-share funding to implement soil health practices including cover cropping and soil testing. Successful applicants will work one-on-one with Certified Crop Advisors (CCA) or Professional Agrologists (P.Ag) to increase their knowledge of the soil productivity practices. The CCAs/P.Ags will help producers in the cover cropping stream develop cover cropping programs to meet the unique needs of their farms. The CCAs/P.Ags will help producers in the soil testing stream learn how to interpret their soil test reports and develop field-specific fertility programs.

“OSCIA is pleased to be testing this new and innovative project design,” says Chad Anderson, President of OSCIA. “We are eager to support producers in accessing local expertise, which is vital in addressing information and knowledge barriers to the implementation of these proven soil productivity practices.”

“The goal is to encourage more producers to incorporate soil testing and cover cropping into their regular farm management practices to support soil health.”

The pilot project was developed after extensive research into the reasons why soil testing and cover cropping are not being implemented on more farms. OSCIA consulted members of an Advisory Team to help understand how to overcome the barriers farmers face when adopting these practices. Advisory Team members included:

  • Farmers
  • Representatives from soil testing laboratories
  • Representatives from cover crop seed dealers
  • Staff from Conservation Authorities
  • CCAs

While the focus on the project is on farmers who do not regularly soil sample, the project will also assist farmers who want to expand their soil sampling practices. Successful applicants who participate in the soil testing stream will receive one on one assistance as well as being eligible to receive a total maximum reimbursement of 60 percent of eligible costs (up to $2,500).

Farmers looking to try cover crops for the first time and those individuals wishing to diversify their cover cropping practices will be eligible to apply for the pilot project.  Participants in the cover cropping stream will receive assistance setting their cover crop goals as well as being eligible for a total maximum reimbursement of 60 percent of eligible costs (up to $2,500).

The project will run for the 2021 growing season and OSCIA will release more details on the application process soon.

“The project relies on quite an innovative design and delivery construct,” says Tracey Ryan, OSCIA Applied Research Coordinator. “We will lean on the certified crop advisors who already work in the targeted counties to share their expertise with participants. The process will be evaluated throughout, with less weight on the actual acres involved and more emphasis on whether the approach leads to stronger engagement by farmers.”

OSCIA seeks CCAs and P.Ags in the counties of Lambton, Renfrew, and Simcoe with a passion for soil testing and/or cover cropping to share their agronomic expertise with successful project applicants. Interested CCAs and P.Ags can contact Tracey Ryan (tryan@ontariosoilcrop.org) for more information.

The Reducing Barriers to BMP Adoption – Soil Testing and Cover Crops is a three-year applied research initiative that began in 2019. The initiative supports improving soil health, productivity, and water quality on farms across Ontario. This project is funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs identified the need for the project and the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association is delivering it.

 

For more information:

Tracey Ryan

Applied Research Coordinator

Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association

tryan@ontariosoilcrop.org

May 3, 2021 / 0 Comments

Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program Survey Request – Environmental Farm Plan

If you have completed an Environmental Farm Plan for your farm, we invite you to participate in this survey. This survey is being used to inform an Independent Analysis Project by Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) Class 18 participants. The project’s aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan in addressing climate change challenges on farm. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete, all answers are anonymous and confidential. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this survey please contact: marinmacnamara@gmail.com.

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N8TVY6Q

The AALP is an executive leadership program for those who want to shape the future of the agriculture and food industry and make a positive difference in rural communities across Ontario. To learn more about AALP and the current class, please visit: https://www.ruralontarioinstitute.ca/aalp/.

May 3, 2021 / 0 Comments

National Survey of Farmer Mental Health in Canada

Researchers at the University of Guelph invite you to take part in a new national survey of farmer mental health in Canada.

Are you a Canadian farmer?

You are invited to complete an online survey to help researchers at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College understand the impacts of your work on your mental health. Findings from this study will provide further insight into data previously collected in the Farmer Stress and Resilience Study (2015/2016) and Farm Management Canada’s recent Healthy Minds, Healthy Farms Study (2020).

The survey will take about 20 minutes and will provide our agricultural community with important information on the mental health of our farmers.

5 lucky survey respondents will win $200!

The survey closes May 31, 2021.

The survey links are:

English: https://uoguelph.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dgmMRnTsAYoChEN

French: https://uoguelph.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6MfNcFgc3bONgMt

Should you have questions or concerns, please contact:

Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton

aqjones@uoguelph.ca

519-824-4120 ext. 54786

March 12, 2021 / 0 Comments

Timing Matters: Frozen ground and nutrients don’t get along

Why you should avoid spreading in the winter and what you can do so you don’t have to

Submitted by: Lilian Schaer, on behalf of Farm and Food Care Ontario (F&FCO)

There are various reasons why farmers apply manure in the winter. Lack of storage capacity or an attempt to avoid soil compaction caused by heavy equipment are two common motivators for a practice that has negative impacts on the environment while also attracting added scrutiny to farmers and farming methods.

As we learn more about nutrient losses and how phosphorus moves in the environment, it has become abundantly clear that frozen ground and nutrient application don’t get along. Which means farmers should avoid applying manure, whether solid or liquid, on frozen or snow covered ground wherever and whenever possible.

Here’s why. Manure is rich in nutrients and micronutrients that are important for healthy crop growth. It can also help build underground biodiversity and add structure that will improve the water-holding capacity of soil, especially when used together with cover crops, no-till or minimum-till, and other practices that boost soil health.


Manure applications can always be susceptible to run-off and nutrient loss, but winter manure applications in particular are prone to nutrient losses. That’s because after freeze-thaw events, air pockets in the soil that have filled with water can refreeze to form an impervious, concrete-like layer. That means water from melting snow combined with winter or early spring rains isn’t absorbed into the soil; instead, it carries manure and nutrients across this impervious layer and off the field into water courses.

Phosphate can move off the field dissolved in water or attached to eroding soil particles and flow into lakes, streams, and water ways where it can promote algae growth. As algae die and decompose, they use up available oxygen in the water, which impacts aquatic life.

Research has shown that there’s a higher risk that manure from winter application will move during spring thaw. In fact, 60-80% of sediment and phosphorus loading occurs between November and April and surface runoff accounts for about 80% of dissolved phosphorus loss.

It’s important to remember that both solid and liquid manure can run off, and even though solid manure might still be visible in the field after application, some nutrients will still dissolve and find their way into waterways.

So, what to do?

Build additional storage. Make sure your farm has adequate manure storage capacity for the size of your herd or flock, including a contingency in case a wet fall or delayed harvest make it difficult to get all the manure out before winter.

Cover existing storages. Extend the holding capacity of your existing manure storage by putting a roof over to keep out rainwater. Calculations by Christine Brown, Field Crop Sustainability Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs show, for example, that a 115-head dairy barn with a 12’ x 145’ circular liquid manure tank can store up to 121 extra days of manure if it is covered.

Add temporary storage. For solid manure, temporary storage in-field is one approved solution when barn storage is limited for bedded-pack manure from cow or heifer barns, or even calf hutches. The key is identifying the best location that will have minimal impact on water and neighbouring properties.
Make a deal. Look at your excess manure as a resource that can help reduce commercial fertilizer costs and consider selling it to other farmers in your area without livestock.

Rotate crops. Adding an extra crop to your rotation is one way to have additional options for spreading manure over the course of the year. Wheat is one of the easiest crops to add for expanded manure management options, but winter barley, winter canola or even hybrid rye are also options for consideration.

Use technology. Manure application technology is continually evolving, making it easier to apply manure into crops during the growing season. Not only does this take the pressure off during spring and fall, but it offers yield boosting potential too.

Using manure is a sustainable agricultural practice but it’s important to manage it responsibly in order to minimize environmental impact, so timing really does matter. More information about all of these topics is available at: https://www.farmfoodcareon.org/timing-matters/.

February 27, 2021 / 0 Comments

Chad Anderson Will Lead OSCIA as 2021 President

Guelph, ON – The 2021 slate of Provincial Directors for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) was introduced in early February at their virtual annual meeting. Taking the reins as president for the one-year term is Chad Anderson from Lambton County.

Chad Anderson, 2021 OSCIA PresidentOSCIA, founded in 1939, is a unique not-for-profit grassroots farm organization. The organization is comprised of more than 50 local associations around the province and a membership of over 4,000 producers that reflects all major sectors. OSCIA is farmers actively seeking, testing and adopting optimal farm production and stewardship practices. Their number one applied research priority is soil health.

As a leader in agricultural stewardship program delivery for more than 30 years, OSCIA works with producers to support environmental stewardship activities in agriculture through education-based programs and cost-share funding opportunities.

Chad and his wife Debbie farm just south of Sarnia in Lambton County. As the fifth generation, they operate a beef farm on the original Anderson homestead settled in 1856, where they also raised 3 children: Kaitlynn, Daniel, and Kendyl.

Along with farming Chad operates an independent crop consulting business under the shingle “Anderson Agronomy Services”. He is a University of Guelph graduate and holds the designations of Certified Crop Advisor as well as Professional Agrologist.

Chad teaches nutrient management at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown campus and in the past the environmental stewardship course. He is proud of the fact that he was able to acquire provincial certification for students looking to go on further in nutrient management development and introducing the Environmental Farm Plan to the stewardship curriculum, in which students can now complete their EFP as verified and eligible for cost share funding.

“It is a real privilege and honor to have the support of the board, the St. Clair Region and my family to be the 2021 OSCIA president” states Anderson. “Having been involved on the board over the span of two strategic plans, I am excited to see us continue to build on our plans to strengthen our grassroots and build on past association success for a great Soil and Crop future.”

The OSCIA Annual Meeting took place on February 2, 2021 and was held over Zoom Webinar, due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. The annual meeting was split into 4 2-hour sessions throughout the day and featured both live and pre-recorded presentations, all of which will be made available on the OSCIA website/2021-annual-report/.

OSCIA’s business of the association took place during the morning session and had the privilege of both the Honorable Minister Hardeman, OMAFRA as well as the Parliamentary Secretary Mr. Ellis (on behalf of the Federal Agriculture Minister Bibeau) AAFC bring greetings to the attendees.
The second session focused on Association updates including featured presentations from Margaret May, OSCIA and Ian McDonald, OMAFRA highlighting a new OSCIA project “Taking Field Learning to the Next Level!” as well as an ONFARM update and Farm cooperator panel discussion. The third session focused on the many OSCIA awards as well as an OMAFRA panel discussion covering topics ranging form Tar Spot (Albert Tenuta), Corn Rootworm Resistance and Impacts on Feedstock (Tracey Baute & Christine O’Reilly) to Winter Barley and Winter Canola in the Rotation (Joanna Follings & Meghan Moran).

The 2021 OSCIA Soil Champion winners are Dr. Laura Van Eerd, UofG in the Research and Extension category and Henry Denotter, Essex County in the Producer category. This year’s winner of the Don Hill Legacy Award is Buurma Farms. These individuals, as well as Scholarship winners will be profiled on the OSCIA website, media releases, and the OSCIA newsletter The Innovator throughout the year.

“Our board is made up of a dynamic and passionate group of farm leaders” comments Anderson when discussing the OSCIA Board of Directors “and I am confident our efforts with the help of the talented OSCIA staff will be very fruitful in empowering our locals and regions to be the best farm organization we can be, whether that be in knowledge transfer, applied research, membership engagement or whatever else comes along.”

The other individuals representing OSCIA regions on the provincial Board of Directors are:

Warren Schneckenburger – 1st Vice, Eastern Valley Steve Sickle – 2nd Vice, Golden Horseshoe
Phil Oegema – 3rd Vice, Thames Valley Stuart Wright – Past President
Cory Cowan, St. Clair Andy van Niekerk, Georgian Central
John Poel, Heartland Eleanor Renaud, Ottawa Rideau
Quinte – current seeking representation East Central – current seeking representation
Birgit Martin, Northeastern Ontario Stefan Szeder, Northwestern Ontario

The Honorary Presidents for 2021 are David & Kathryn Mayberry.

For more information contact Amber Van De Peer, Executive Assistant at avandepeer@ontariosoilcrop.org OR Chad Anderson, 2021 OSCIA President at canderson@ontariosoilcrop.org

February 12, 2021 / 0 Comments

Ontario grain farmer, sustainable soil management professor named 2021 Soil Champions

Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association honours Henry Denotter and Dr. Laura Van Eerd
Guelph ON, 04 February 2021 

A grain farmer from Essex County and a professor in School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus have been chosen as winners of the 2021 Soil Champion Award. The annual award, which recognizes leaders in sustainable soil management, was presented by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) to Henry Denotter in the producer category and Dr. Laura Van Eerd in the research/extension category.

“We are excited to be able to present the Soil Champion Award to two recipients this year,” says Chad Anderson, OSCIA President for 2021. “Both Henry and Laura are very worthy recipients of this award and we appreciate their passion for soil health and everything they are doing to advance sustainable soil health management in Ontario.”
Henry Denotter farms with his family in southern Essex County, growing corn, soybeans, wheat and cover crops. His soil health improvement activities started decades ago when he planted his first crop of no-till soybeans on 30-inch rows. Today, he aims to be 100% no-till every year, all fields are grid soil sampled regularly and fertilizer is applied in-furrow for minimal soil disturbance.

Cover crops are a big part of Denotter’s cropping rotation, and in the lastHenry Denotter, 2021 Soil Champion winner, Producer Category several years he’s been experimenting with buckwheat. His biggest success stories, though, have been transitioning to 20-inch rows in his no-till corn and soybeans and a modified air seeder he bought and rebuilt that is completely convertible to accommodate multiple crops and fertilizer.
“Sometimes even the smallest thing can improve soil health – every little bit can make a difference,” says Denotter. “Being selected Soil Champion is like icing on the cake. This has been part of my focus for the last 20 years and I didn’t realize how much I’d done in that time.”

Dr. Laura Van Eerd, 2021 Soil Champion winner Research and Extension category

Photo credit: Bernard Tobin

Laura Van Eerd is a professor in sustainable soils management. When she first came to Ridgetown in 2003, much of her work involved nitrogen fertility in vegetable crops. Today, her big focus in on cover crops and how they influence carbon storage and soil health.

Following a sabbatical in 2013, she became among the first to publish about soil health in Canada. More recently, was invited to write the soil health chapter in an Introductory Canadian Soil Science textbook, which is expected to be released later this year. In addition to research, she’s also involved in teaching and extension activities.

“When I look at the list of Soil Champions before me, I’m in awe; this is good company and I feel honoured to be part of it,” says Van Eerd, adding she’s also appreciative of the hard work of her research technicians and students who support her research.

Nominations for the 2022 Soil Champion can be submitted any time up to November 1, 2021. Visit ontariosoilcrop.org to learn more about this year’s winners and how to make a nomination.

OSCIA is a unique, not-for -profit grassroots farm organization whose mission is to facilitate responsible economic management of soil, water, air and crops through development and communication of innovative farming practices.

Visit  www.ontariosoilcrop.org for more information about the Soil Champion award, including how to nominate someone, or for more information contact: Andrew Graham, OSCIA Executive Director, agraham@ontariosoilcrop.org or 519-654-6893