This report assesses various aspects of the following five Green Plan
||Assess the State of Agricultural Resources: Improving the Land Resource Data Base
||Whitchurch-Stouffville; Wilmot, Waterloo Region
||Upgrade of Soil Survey Information for Oxford County
||Development and Application of Standardized Methodology
for Sampling Soil Landscape Polygons
||Haldimand-Norfolk, Brant, Middlesex, Essex
||Development and Testing of a "State of Agricultural
Resources" Reporting and Monitoring Methodology for Ontario
||Ramsay Township in Lanark County, Kent
County, Southern Ontario
||Monitoring Soil and Redistribution using 137Cs
||Southern Ontario, Kintore (Pilot) Watershed
Objectives and Expected Outputs
- To review Research Reports #3.4, #3.5, #3.6, #3.7, #3.8, and evaluate
those proposals in the context of and evolving research directions in
the Green Plan and the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) respecting the
Great Lakes Basin;
- To review literature to assist in the evaluation and the provision
- To establish a recommended approach based on the review, evaluation
||The completed work would include the context as set out
by the objectives of the COA as follows: i) To restore degraded ecosystems
(RAPs); ii) To prevent and control pollutant impacts; iii) To conserve
human/ecosystem health, and integrate ecosystem management. The report
summarizing the findings will include reference to the literature and/or
to past/present practices in agrology in support of the information, providing
context, and in support of the recommendations. This report will be useful
as a planning tool.
||Open Bid, Industry
||93-94: $67.4 K, 94-95: $145.2 K, 95-96: $176.2
K, 96-97: $155.7 K, Total: $544.6 K
||Available Fall 1997
AgPlan Limited produced an unsolicited proposal and was subsequently given
a contract to compare and contrast five different Green Plan Reports. The
five contractors producing these reports were all responding to the same terms
of reference provided by a single Request For Proposal. Therefore, it seemed
appropriate to compare the five reports by:
Identifying their common elements,
Highlighting their unique characteristics and
Suggesting how the collective information could be used to provide benefit
and guidance for future work in the subject areas addressed by the five
Given that the different Reports had a cross section of components, levels
of detail (complexity) and area of focus, a framework of questions was derived
and used to synthesize information. The questions in the framework were as
What variables or factors were used in the different projects?
What similarities/dissimilarities arise in the physical resource data
when the projects are compared?
Are there reasons for these differences (if any) other than contractual
arrangements, i.e., the terms of reference and proposals prepared for the
What are the characteristics of the variables/factors used in the resource
base? For example:
Are they single component or multiple component?
Are they calculations?
How feasible are the variables from the perspective of "cost" of collection,
i.e., public understanding, practicality as measurements or indicators,
current availability (temporal and geographic), scale of measurement and/or
application (field, farm, ecosystem)?
Are these factors direct or indirect (surrogates) - Do they seem appropriate?
What limitations, qualifiers are suggested for the variables/factors?
What kinds and degree of risk do these variables/factors distinguish?
The results of the review and evaluation have been summarized in matrices
and answer two questions:
What are essential data, variables or factors?
What are desirable data, variables or factors?
The evaluation also considers scale (appropriate levels), availability
and adequacy of data as well as limitations to application. Reference to the
literature and/or practice (past and present) in agrology was made in support
of the evaluation.
All of the consultant reports provide the information that their original
proposals state. However, taken singly, the reports do not meet all of the
objectives of the COA. Even as a group, the reports provide fragmented views
of the system of agriculture and are not related to an ecosystem or ecosystems.
This is not surprising given the state of scientific knowledge about ecosystems
which tends to be broadly-based conceptually but limited to smaller, more
specific pieces practically.
One can conclude that the reports provide a reasonable product given that
they provide the information that they contracted to provide..
However, current questions remain outstanding:
What links are possible with other databases (eg. update Richards et
What methods of database combination are available, what are their pros
and cons, which ones would we prefer to use, and why?
Where is data unavailable or sparse - geographically, in what subject
Given information from questions 1-3, which databases are best updated
to provide geographic differentiation of agricultural sustainability?
Given questions 1-4, which areas in Southern Ontario are more suitable
and/or are at risk?
In summary, it is apparent upon review of all of the reports that the preparation
of a data base for agriculture requires an additional framework which provides
classification, integration and correlation. Without that framework, measurement
of environmental/ecological change will be exceedingly difficult. Stated in
other words, there are some issues that may benefit from additional discussion/study.
These issues include:
the variables needed to evaluate agriculture, how they are presented
in classes or groups (classified) and whether they are necessary/mandatory
the scale at which information needs to be presented - planners tend
to use information at regional scales, whereas farmers have a need for more
detail in low input/variable input agriculture;
the definition of variables.
matters such as slope class, landscape, land use, and various interpretations
from capability through to existing versus potential erosion would benefit
from a single accurate, precise definition. It is not likely that consensus
is possible for this set of accurate precise definitions; it will likely
need to be imposed;
the definition of areas at risk (risk of loss / risk of degradation in
environment and for productivity; risk related to mortality, health of farmers
and the public; risk to economic returns; risk to resource quantity/quality
in what location; risk related to level of resilience - environment, economic;
problems of duality/contradiction - a positive solution to one ecological
component may negatively affect another input; and
links to non-agricultural influences - sewers and other infrastructure
that may affect agriculture directly or indirectly.
May 17, 2011 09:50:41 AM