Green Plan Bulletin
March 1996

 

Environmentally sustainable agriculture is important for many reasons: to protect our soil and water resources, to maintain the sustainability of our farms and Ontario farmers, and to ensure the long-term viability of Ontario agriculture. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have been working together with the Ontario farming community for many years to develop farming methods that are environmentally sustainable.

After extensive consultation with members of the Ontario agri-food sector, the federal and provincial governments launched the Canada-Ontario Agriculture Green Plan in September 1992. The purpose of the Green Plan is to maintain and enhance the natural resources that the Ontario agri-food sector uses and affects.

This bulletin is being provided to keep you informed about the six Green Plan program areas and projects which have been developed, their progress, and results. As you will note, these activities address a wide range of issues related to agriculture and the environment, as well as the enhancement of the environmental sustainability of the Ontario agri-food sector.

 


Nutrient Management/On-Farm Research/Monitoring & Evaluation

This program is administered by the London Pest Management Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and oversees 30 research projects which fit under one of three specific mandates:

  • Manure and Nutrient Management

    These projects are designed to determine improved handling, storage and application practices for manure to minimize the impact of nutrients and bacteria on groundwater quality; and, to develop sustainable practices for safely applying composted urban organic waste (food, paper and yard) on agricultural land.

    To date, reports on two of 11 projects in this category have been completed. They provide an overview of manure and nutrient management, and a review on wildlife habitats in agricultural landscapes.

     

  • On-Farm Research

    Seven projects have been assigned in this category, in an effort to establish new technologies for using conservation cropping systems on heavier-textured soils, as well as to develop sustainable practices for variable fertilizer application, and for incorporating rotations and cover crops into conservation cropping systems.

    A literature review of on-farm research design and data evaluation methods has now been completed.

     

  • Monitoring and Evaluation

    The mandate in this category is to assess current agricultural resources, and develop techniques to maintain an integrated monitoring capability for tracking and diagnosing aspects of improved sustainable practices.

    Of 12 resource monitoring projects under way, five have been completed. A final report on two projects is finished, and three projects' draft reports are now being reviewed.

    In all cases, current and continuing activities include contractor support when required, site visits, and regular communication via electronic media for information and problem solving. The program's Annual Research Workshop in March 1996 will this year be open to farm media for the first time, in an effort to reinforce the benefits of the program.

    The remaining reports in each of the three sub-categories are due before program completion, March 31, 1997.

For more information about Nutrient Management/On-Farm Research/Monitoring & Evaluation, please contact: Dr. Bruce Bowman, Research Branch, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, London,  1391 Sandford Street, London, Ontario, N5V 4T3. Tel: 519-457-1470. Fax: 519-457-3997.

 

Environmental Farm Planning & Incentive Program

Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs) have been voluntarily prepared by farm families who wish to raise their awareness of the environment on their farm. Through the EFP process, farmers have recognized environmental strengths on their farms, identified areas of concern, and implemented a realistic action plan of simple and practical activities which will improve these conditions.

To date, about 5,000 individual farmers have made their own commitment by actively participating in the EFP exercise.

Farmers have been involved in every stage of developing the plans. These stages include completion of EFP Self-Assessments, which ask farmers to first rate the current level of environmental concern in up to 23 different areas on the farm; and then complete an Action Plan which highlights the areas of concern and intended strategies to address these concerns.

Farmers who want a second opinion on the effectiveness of their action plan can submit the completed plan for review by a panel of their peers. If deemed appropriate, the ideas in their plan become eligible under the incentive program for up to $1,500 in funding per farm. An additional Awards Program offers 12 cash prizes of $1,000 for innovative approaches to managing environmental concerns. Program representatives and peer review committees continue to evaluate the success of the program and look for new ways to promote it. For example, staff in Peel Region have worked closely with the Ontario Equestrian Federation to develop a series of promotional activities for the Royal Winter Fair and the Federation's Annual Meeting.

Current funding will allow the program to continue through March 1997.

For more information about the Environmental Farm Planning & Incentive Program, please contact: Cecil Bradley, Senior Manager, Farm Policy Research Group, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, 40 Eglinton Avenue East., 5th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4P 3B1. Tel: 416485-3333. Fax: 416-485-9027.

Technology Transfer Program

As many as 187 reports are expected from the research and development projects that are currently under way within 11 categories of the Canada-Ontario Green Plan. A Technology Transfer strategy is being defined this year to ensure that Green Plan information will be disseminated over the next 18 months to the agri-food sector and the public in a useful and straightforward manner.

To meet this objective, the Technology Transfer Program has begun eight Technology Transfer projects:

  1. A Green Plan Technology Transfer Workshop, held in January 1996, presented stakeholders with examples of the type of information being generated within the Green Plan, and included a forum on how to meet the information needs of Ontario farmers.

  2. The Technology Transfer Pilot Project is using the recommendations of a recent Green Plan manure management study to test~the feasibility and challenges of distributing complex information to farmers in a clear manner.

  3. A Decision Support System Follow-Up study is planned to develop a capability to relate the recommendations of individual Green Plan research projects to Ontario producers and other agricultural industry professionals.

  4. The DSS/ES Marketing Support program will recommend the most efficient methods of promotion, distribution and on-going support of the Decision Support System (Expert Systems) software put forward by various agencies.

  5. A user-friendly CD-ROM based on the Best Management Practices Water Management book is in development in an effort to guide users through the process of finding all the information they require, related to a particular theme.

  6. Partnerships in Environmental Enhancement will pool resources by building a network between the traditional providers of information and private sector suppliers, environmental groups and farm organizations.

  7. The Technology Transfer Coordination project will strive to identify limitations and attempt to close significant gaps in the current transfer of sustainable technology information.

  8. An Internet Pilot Project is intended to provide easy public access to information about the Canada-Ontario Green Plan, in an effort to reduce the expense of publishing hard copy reports and fielding telephone and fax inquiries.

For more information about the Technology Transfer Program, please contact: Henry Olechowski, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, Guelph Agriculture Centre, P.O. Box 1030, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6N1.

Rural Conservation Clubs Program

The Rural Conservation Clubs Program was designed to encourage and stimulate the following activities:  

  1. the maintenance and enhancement of the natural resources that the Ontario agri-food sector uses and affects;

  2. the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices through improvements to on-farm environmental planning and decision making;

  3. the exchange, testing, and promotion of innovative research and demonstration projects on environmentally sustainable agriculture by Ontario farmers and conservationists.

Participants in the thirty-two "active" projects continue to test and share their innovative ideas. Among those activities currently under study: conservation tillage trials; water quality management; restoration, construction and management of wetlands; soil and manure management; reducing agricultural insecticides; precision farming and various tools of farm management and analysis; biosolid research; maple bush management.

Most projects continue until March 31, 1997, although several have concluded their research and demonstration activities. Two examples:

"Alternative Methods for Colorado Potato Beetle Control" - The Colorado Potato Beetle is the major insect pest of tomatoes and potatoes and its resistance to insecticides is increasing. This project was approved to test the effectiveness of various cultural and biological control measures, and to reduce insecticide use on test plots set up by Club members in Kent and Essex counties.

Achievements:

  • Trap strips were effective in eight of 10 fields, with two having substantial movement of CPB into tomatoes - club members are convinced that they can be useful, but good weed control is essential to their effectiveness.

  • Capture of CPB in plastic lined trenches varied from 50-90% of spring beetles -biodegradable plastic mulch needed to solve problems with disposal.

  • Four members tested a propane flamer - kill open took 24 hours, and ranged from 60 to 80% on spring adults of CPB.

For further results of this project, please contact Richard Perry, c/o OMAFRA -Stratford ~ (519) 271-0282.

"Forages for Soil and Profit" - Forages are the major crop throughout Renfrew County and provide feed for the livestock-based agriculture that occurs in this area. Club members collected yield data, background information and forage samples for quality analysis from seven dairy, four beef and two cash crop hay farms.

The activities of club members helped identify several factors influencing forage production on county farms:

  • fields decline dramatically in yield after three years of production - this limits the profit potential of farms where older forage fields are not reseeded or fertilized.

  • forage feed quality improves with three cuts versus two - this has major implications on dairy farms. ~

  • extreme moisture and wet weather reduced yields as some cuts were chopped back onto the field - forage removed as silage reduced the impact of weather on yield and feed quality.

  • lowest yields were from the one harvest program.

  • low soil potassium with minimal potash from manure or fertilizer reduced yield and forage persistence - potassium application kept yields up where soil potash levels were low.

  • low soil pH was identified as a factor that many farms need to correct with lime application to grow alfalfa.

  • pastured forages produced more yield than several machine harvested fields - this is significant considering harvest costs are almost negligible when pasturing is used.

For more detailed information on the results of this project, please contact Paul Sullivan, c/o OMAFRA - Nepean, (613) 828-9167.

For more information about the Rural Conservation Clubs Program, please contact: Nancy Cherny, MISB/Ontario, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, 174 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 4S9. Tel: 519-837-9400. Fax: 519-837-9782.

Best Management Practices Program

The Best Management Practices series of innovative books continues to grow, with nine comprehensive books now completed, two in the final stages of production, and three additional titles being developed.

Each book contains a range of options and solutions for particular environmental concerns, allowing farmers to customize their conservation and sustainable activities and practices. Best Management Practices books now available are:

New titles expected in Spring 1996 are:

The three titles being developed are:

  • No-Till: Making It Work
  • Pesticide Storage, Handling and Application
  • Water Wells

A Decima Research survey in 1995 surveyed more than 600 Ontario farmers and related industry stakeholders. The results revealed that more than 97 per cent of respondents say the subject matter and treatment are effectively addressing a need of farmers and rural residents for information on cost effective options for dealing with environmental problems. Two of the titles have won international awards.

The BMP program is also soliciting production partners, identifying revisions to booklets and initiating reprints, exploring CD-ROM as a medium for technology transfer, and developing a business and marketing plan.

For more information about the Best Management Practices Program, or the findings of the Decima Research survey, please contact: Cecil Bradley, Senior Manager, Farm Policy Research Group, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, 40 Eglinton Avenue East., 5th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4P 3B1.

 

Wetlands/Woodlands/Wildlife (3W) Program

The Wetlands/Woodlands/Wildlife Program is partnering hundreds of Ontario farmers with agricultural and other groups in the province to develop on-farm demonstrations and publicize management practices and technologies that conserve, enhance or create fish and wildlife habitat while maintaining the viability and profitability of agricultural activities.

The coordination and management of this Program is provided by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada.

Program leaders recognize that wildlife-related issues can differ greatly in various parts of Ontario, depending on the type of farm operation, landscape features and the wildlife species in question. Therefore, the program is funding 10 projects across the province, which demonstrate a broad range of topics, including bank stabilization, creating buffers to prevent runoff, soil conservation, revegetation through native tree and shrub planting, exclusion fencing of livestock near watercourses, delayed grazing techniques, establishing windbreak and wildlife corridors, and drain enhancements.

The 10 programs are managed by the following stakeholder groups:

  • Ducks Unlimited Canada
  • Federation of Ontario Naturalists
  • Grey County Soil and Crop Improvement Association
  • Grand River Conservation Authority
  • La Cité collégiate
  • Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority
  • Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters & Ontario Cattlemen's Association (2 projects)
  • Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
  • Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

Each of the demonstration projects have secured project sites, with cooperators totalling over 140 farmers and 45 rural landowners. More than 200 individual project activities have been completed, with an estimated 5,350 volunteer hours logged. Accomplishments to date include the following:

  • Well over 75,000 trees and 12,000 shrubs have been planted to encourage natural corridors, reduce soil erosion and surface runoff and habitat development;

  • 24,642 metres of fencing has been erected to control livestock access to watercourses, encourage improved herd health, and establish fish and wildlife habitat;

  • More than 100 acres have been planted to wildflowers and native grasses;

  • 39 demonstration tours of projects have been conducted for 1,100 participants, with more planned in the final year of the program;

  • WWW is sponsoring a Best Management Practices booklet entitled Fish & Wildlife Habitat Management, available this spring;

  • Several groups are producing videos of their demonstration projects;

The program has received widespread approval from farmers, industry clubs and media, and more than 120 news stories have been written about the WWW Program.

For more information about the Wetlands/Woodlands/Wildlife (3W) Program, please contact: Gary McCullough, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, 152 Newbold Court, London, Ontario, N6E 1Z7,  or Laurie Maynard, Environmental Conservation Branch, Environment Canada, 75 Farquhar Street, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 3N4.

Stewardship Information Bureau

The Stewardship Information Bureau (SIB) was established to provide a forum for the exchange of innovative sustainable agriculture information and technology. An Innovation networks of more than 900 farmers, government and industry participants has been established. Participants communicate both electronically and through printed publications including The Green Pages" resource listing and "Innovations" newsletter.

The following summarizes the SIB's recent activities:  

  • Expanded working partnerships continue with OMAFRA, IFAO, OSCIA and the University of Guelph. A no-till workshop in conjunction with IFAO will be held in March 1996, and SIB is developing a promotions plan for its "Using the Net" workshop and hands-on internet opportunities. A brochure advertising the multimedia computer facility was also distributed.

  • Changes implemented into the E Plus database software program provided greater sorting flexibility in the development of the 1995 E-Plus program results report.

  • SIB attended a workshop on accessing agricultural information on the internet, held in the fall of 1995.

  • Several issue papers are in various stages of development, with the intent that they will form a cohesive and consistent group of publications for easy use.

  • Major improvements to the SIB electronic services include a more user friendly front-end menu system and completion of the SIB Home Page, designed as a Cite referrals for Internet users. SIB also completed a home page for the University of Guelph's Environmental Communications Network.

  • SIB is in the process of evaluating a needs survey of all stakeholders to help direct future activities.

Strategies for SIB to become financially self-sustaining after 1997 continue in their early stages of development.

For more information about the Stewardship Information Bureau, please contact: Jim Arnold, Manager, 150 Research Lane, Suite 104, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 4T2. Tel: 519-767-5020. Fax: 519-766-0512.

This Bulletin is prepared by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Market Industry Services Branch, 174 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario, NIG 4S9. 

 


 

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Created: 16 November, 1996 13:26:59
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 04:19:46 PM