Submitted by: Mary Feldskov, Heartland Regional Communication Coordinator
Applied research is one of the cornerstones of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). One of the ways that applied research is supported at the grassroots level is through the Tier Two Grant program.
The Tier Two Grant program allocates research funding for larger, multi-year research projects that focus on innovation and collaboration and address one or more of OSCIA’s research priorities, such as improving soil health, residue and tillage management and erosion prevention, addressing climate change, and the bio-economy. After a call for submissions received a great response from across the province, six three-year projects were awarded in 2018 and were completed in 2021.
Here is a summary of the projects funded:
Roots not iron 2.0: A continuation of Roots not iron, a collaborative project by Thames Valley and Heartland Regional SCIAs in the 2015-2018 Tier Two Grant program. The project aimed to gather data comparing conventional tillage cover crops, and planting green.
Compaction recovery with cover crops: Bruce County SCIA investigated how cover crops could play a role in
alleviating the effects of compaction.
Relay cropping of soybeans into winter wheat: Quinte Regional SCIA investigated the economic viability of relay cropping of wheat and soybeans.
AGTIV mycorrhizal inoculant evaluation on potato, cereal, and soybean crops: A collaborative effort by Northeastern Ontario, Nipissing West/East Sudbury & Sudbury SCIAs, this project set out to determine if the inoculant had a benefit in terms of soil health, improved plant growth, and increase in overall yield and quality of potato, cereal and soybean crops.
Maximizing cereal rye cover crop management for multiple benefits: Heartland and Eastern Valley Regional SCIAs investigated ways to use cereal rye as a cover crop while minimizing any negative impacts on crop yield.
Comparing cover crop-based no-till to tillage-based organic soybean production & impact of planting “green” – image from Tier Two AGM 2020 presentation
Soil health as it relates to yield: St. Clair Region SCIA sponsored a project that compared A&L Canada Laboratories’ new soil health analysis (Vitellus) and other soil health measures to yield and plant performance.
One of the goals of the Tier Two Grant program is to communicate the findings of the projects and encourage uptake of the innovative research. Over the past three years the project findings have been presented at OSCIA provincial, regional and local events, in print publications, and online. The final project reports and videos can be found at www.osciaresearch.org.
A common theme throughout these projects was that while there was a lot of interest and discussion around these topics among Ontario producers, there was very little data available to them to use to evaluate the innovation or technology—which is a barrier to adoption of new products or production methods. With real-world results from Ontario farms, the findings of these applied research projects will help farmers make agronomic and business decisions about implementation of new technologies or innovations in their own operations.