OSCIA is a part of leading edge research on soil health, crop production, bio-energy, grassland bird conservation and more.

An example of the work OSCIA is involved in is Living Labs

The Living Laboratories Initiative (the Initiative) is a network of Living Labs across Canada, supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), where farmers, researchers, agricultural organizations and environmental organizations can work together on real working farms to develop innovative practices and approaches to address local agro-ecosystem challenges.

Through the Initiative researchers and farmers develop and test innovations in the field.  The aim is to develop practical technologies and practices that make sense for Canadian farmers to help them adjust to climate change, reduce water contamination, improve soil and water conservation, and maximize habitat capacity and biodiversity on agricultural landscapes. 

In 2019 the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) was chosen to lead the Living Lab – Ontario (LL-ON) project.  Under the leadership of the OSCIA, the Ecological Farmers Association of OntarioInnovative Farmers Association of OntarioOntario Soil NetworkEssex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA)Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) are working together with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada on this project.  The Living Lab -Ontario project focuses the work of numerous scientists from both AAFC and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) on 6 farms in the Lake Erie basin.      

The research conducted in Ontario focuses on reducing soil and nutrient runoff from agricultural land into Lake Erie, improving water quality, conserving soil health, and increasing biodiversity on agricultural lands in Ontario.

Select past research initiatives

Grassland Birds and Agriculture

OSCIA has partnered with Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario (BECO) and Renfrew County farmers to complete research on the effectiveness of set-asides in rotational grazing on the nesting success of grassland birds (specifically bobolink) in rotational grazing systems. This two year research project will be key to developing best management practices that allow for productive farm systems and conservation of grassland birds. This project is funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada through the Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands initiative.

Studying Bobolink in Grazed Pastures

Keep up to date on our Research Initiatives in our News section and on our Applied Research Website (by clicking on image below)

click image to go to research website

Soil Mesocosms for Precise and Controlled Mass Balance Studies at the Field Scale: A Unique Facility in North America

OSCIA is participating on the Advisory Committee for innovative soils research at the Elora Research Station, lead by Dr. Claudia Wagner Riddel. The proposed outcomes are:

  1. Science-based management practices for soil ecosystems that will reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, while still providing the ecosystem services Canadian society needs from agriculture;
  2. Improved models that can predict risk of groundwater contamination and greenhouse gas emissions, under climate change and various management systems;
  3. Improved understanding of the role of soil microbial communities and their response to warming and nitrogen addition, and estimates of soil resilience under a changing climate for better future soil management.
    Research 2

Lake Erie Retrospective Analysis
Partners: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Emissions Testing from Biomass Heating (DRAFT Infosheet) (News Article)
Partners: Forman Farms, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; University of Guelph

Field-Scale Agricultural Biomass Research and Development Project
Partners: University of Guelph

Ontario Field Crop Residue Survey of Availability and Properties as Potential Feedstocks for the Bioeconomy
Partners: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Quantifying the Physical Characteristics of Good Soil Quality
Partners: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Lake Simcoe Soil Health Improvement Project
Partners: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

On-Farm Corn and Soybean Trials – Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment Efficacy Study
Partners: University of Guelph (Ridgetown Collage)

Publications and Resources


Source Water Protection Map

Find out if your property is located in a vulnerable area – e.g. close to a municipal drinking water well or intake – and find information on managing activities using the source protection plan.


The Agricultural Information Atlas is an interactive online application that allows you to create custom maps and find agricultural information for Ontario.

Program Research and Resources

Environmental Farm Plan and Growing your Farm Profits  – Gap Analysis (Summary Presentation)
— Deloitte

Potential Role of the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan in Responding to Sustainability Demands of the Agri-food Supply Chain
— Claudia Schmidt, Janalee Sweetland and Al Mussell (George Morris Centre)

Environmental Farm Plans: Measuring Performance, Improving Effectiveness, and Increasing Participation
— Prairie Research Associates for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, on behalf of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition

Spatial Analysis of the Adoption of Nutrient Management Related Best Management Practices in Ontario, April 2005-March 2010
— Elisabeth Woyzbun, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Alternative Funding Models for Agricultural Stewardship Programs in Ontario
— Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Species at Risk and Agriculture

Nutritional Quality of Perennial Forages from May to August: Impact of Delaying First Cut on Dairy and Beef Production
— University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Farming with Grassland Birds: A guide to making your hay and pasture bird friendly
— Jack Kyle and Ron Reid for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Risk or Reward: An Investigation of Ontario Farmer Perceptions of Species at Risk
— Lyn Garrah for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Actions on the Farm: How farmers support wildlife through the Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (Poster) (Tri-Fold Brochure)
— Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

 A Safe Harbour Policy for Canada? Examining the potential for safe harbour agreements within the confines of the federal Species at Risk Act
— Sumeet Tandon for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Citizen Science for Environmental Research
— Colin Robertson, Wilfrid Laurier University

Species At Risk Public Registry Information (link)
— Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change

Ontario Grasslands on Your Farm
— Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

Other Relevant Research and Resources

Cover crops early harvest postcard

Early Harvest Cover Crops – Postcard

Cover crops Fall postcard

Fall Cover Crops – Postcard

New Crops, Old Challenges: Tips and tricks for managing new crops!
— Simcoe Research Station

Rotational Grazing in Extensive Pastures
— Victoria MacPhail, AAFC & Jack Kyle, OMAFRA

Ontario Pedigreed Seed Industry Economic Impact Study: An Update
— Al Mussell and Irena Rajcan (George Morris Centre)

An Economic Comparison of Pasture Based Beef Breeding Herds and Cash Crops in Southern Ontario
— Yungblut & Associates for OSCIA

Ontario Cover Crops Strategy 
— Steering committee included representatives from: OMAFRA, CCA, GFO, IFAO, OABA, OFA, OFVGA, OSCIA, and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

Children’s Activities

SAR-inspired valentines

Monarch Butterfly Valentine   Badger Valentine  Barn Owl Valentine

Species at Risk on Your Farm — Activity Book

Species At Risk On Your Farm activity book coverpage

Habitat Stewardship on Your Farm — Activity Book

Habitat Stewardship On Your Farm activity book coverpage

Badgers of Southern Ontario — Booklet
Badgers of Southern Ontario activity book coverpage