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Federal Component


Program Expenditures


  1. Permanent Cover
  2. Soil Survey
  3. Research
    Part I - Research Contracts
    Part II  - In-House Research
    Part III - Contributions
    Evaluation Criteria - Research Appendix A
  4. Monitoring - Soil Quality Evaluation Project (SQEP)
         Other SQEP Reports
    Soil Quality Evaluation Program - Summary Report (1994)
  5. Awareness

View / Download NSCP Summary Report     [124 KB pdf]
(Summary of Research Program - by Dr. Al Hamill

View/Download Final NSCP Report -  [392 KB pdf]
(includes Agreements and appendices)

View available NSCP Reports




The majority of the federal $11.1 million budget focused on the protection of the agricultural lands most sensitive to erosion, using buffer strips along water courses and tree plantings on fragile land. This $8.2 million "permanent cover" component was delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). In each of Ontario's 55 counties, OSCIA established a committee of local farmers to set local priorities and rule on applications and bids under the NSCP.

The remaining $2.9 million was used for research, soil monitoring, and conservation awareness projects, which were being carried out by Agriculture Canada.


Program Elements

Federal ($000)

Provincial ($000)

Permanent Cover Program 8,250 0
Monitoring, Research And Soil Survey 2,400 0
Awareness 450 0
Research 0 750
Extension 0 500
Financial Assistance   9,850
Total 11,100 11,100








Permanent Cover Program 0 791,750 2,644,195 3,366,523 6,802,468
Monitoring Research And Soil Survey 0 530,000 960,000 909,500 2,399,500
Awareness 39,600 33,970 41,650 52,960 168,180
Sub-Total Federal 39,600 1,355,720 3,645,845 4,328,983 9,370,148



    The Permanent Cover Program of the National Soil Conservation Program (Ontario) was developed to assist in the implementation of on-farm conservation measures by funding buffer strips along water courses, tree plantings on fragile land, and retirement of flood plains.

    There are three parts to this section of the program:

    1. Education through Demonstration Sites - Original Allocation - $605,000

    2. Administration - Original Allocation - $2,060,000

    3. Financial Incentives for Permanent Cover - Original Allocation - $5,585,000, divided amongst counties on the basis of row crop acres.


    Agriculture Canada signed a contribution agreement with OSCIA to deliver the permanent cover portion of the program at the local level. Committees representative of the farm community were established in each county/district to review projects eligible for contributions under the permanent cover portion of the program. Project proposals were submitted on a bid/tendering basis to local committees of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). Local OSCIA committees examined each applicant's proposal (bid), approving only those which offered highest value per dollar of contribution.

    Program Description and Results

    Up to $10,000 per farmer was available under this three-year program. Producers could receive funds for retiring and protecting fragile land, especially farmland adjacent to streams and open ditches. This protected land will act as a shield from land that is under agricultural production and will help reduce erosion and chemical runoff. Eligible projects can include a number of program components, including 8 to 20 foot buffer strips with permanent grass and/or trees, enhanced buffers, block plantings of trees up to 20 acres on highly erodible and/or fragile land, and flood plains. Long-term agreements of 5, 10, 15 years were signed with recipients and over 90% of these were for 15 years. See Appendix C for details by project type and counties.

    In total there were 1226 projects covering 5016 acres at an average cost of $979/acre for a total expenditure of $4,910,658.82. This represents 87.9% of the $5.585 million originally allocated.

    • Assuming a 16 foot (5 meter) width, over 1000 miles (1600 kilometres) of buffer strips were established.

    • Of over 2,000 bids submitted, 1226 were approved.

    • Flood plain retirement accounted for 74 projects on 570 acres (231 hectares)

    • NSCP helped farmers plant 2.5 million trees on fragile farmland.

    • NSCP helped establish 25 miles (42 kilometres) of windbreaks.

    Demonstration Sites

    Financial assistance was made available through the NSCP to establish demonstration sites. A maximum of $20,000 per site, to a maximum of $605,000 across Ontario was available. These demonstration sites focused on the retirement of fragile lands through permanent cover, targeted toward buffer zones adjacent to streams and watercourses, highly erodible sloping land and flood plains.

    The OSCIA was responsible for reviewing and approving these demonstration site proposals. A Demonstration Site Approval Committee was established for this purpose. Applicants submitted a detailed project proposal including project plan, demonstration value, cost-benefit analysis and institutional involvement. Eligible applicants included Municipalities, Universities and Colleges, Conservation Authorities, government ministries, farm organizations and non-government agencies.

    See Appendix C for complete list of demonstration site locations.

    • 31 projects were implemented with a total contribution of $341,000

    • 5 grass buffers, 5 grass and tree buffers, 10 highly erodible land, 5 floodplain, 5 enhanced buffers and one wetland buffer were established as demonstration sites.

    Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) Contribution to Tree Plantings Under NSCP

    The tree plantings that occurred under NSCP were successful due to the cooperative approach taken by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the OSCIA and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

    In 1990, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) signed an agreement with the Ontario Soil and Crop Association (OSCIA) to supply nursery stock and the expertise to establish trees on fragile agricultural land. See Appendix B for details of master contract. The price to be paid for tree establishment service was based on the actual MNR costs incurred for tree planting on private land. Landowners paid for their Tree Service Contracts to OSCIA who in turn authorized MNR to establish the trees as outlined in the Tree Planting Plan. At the end of each planting season a summary of trees established was sent by MNR to OSCIA who then reimbursed the Minister. The price paid was $0.85 per tree.

    For this amount the Ministry carried out the following services:

    1. Site visits were made to determine the tree requirements.

    2. Suitable nursery stock was supplied.

    3. Site preparation was carried out.

    4. Trees were planted.

    5. Vegetative competition was controlled.

    6. Assessments were made to ensure establishment.

    The tree handling, planting and tending standards adhered to were those in effect for regular MNR tree planting projects.

    Tree establishment accomplishments under MNR were as follows:



    Dollars (+ GST)
    1992 445,166 $404,877
    1993 297,575 $270,644
    1994 11,400 $ 10,468
      ----------- --------------
      754,141 $685,889




    To promote a standard compilation of information on the quality, extent and location of agricultural lands in Ontario to provide standard reference data for policy, planning and extension initiatives.

    The soil survey upgrade sub-component had a budget of $ 200,000 over the three year duration of the program, and was administered by the head of the federal soil survey unit in Guelph.

    There were three areas of activity under this sub-program. The first was the development of an overall approach to soil survey information in the province. This included critical assessment of the requirements for the information and guidelines for upgrading surveys which were inadequate. This activity was carried out in-house with a great deal of consultation with associated agencies. The second activity consisted of several small projects conducted in-house to speed up the development of a generalized provincial level soil survey map for broad scale planning at regional, provincial and national levels. This activity also included a completion of data compilation for a detailed soil re-survey map and report. The third activity dealt with the need to upgrade substantial areas of the province for which the current soil survey information is inadequate. The requirements for additional information to bring the survey up to modern requirements were defined and developed into "Statements of Work" which formed part of requests for proposals.

    The following three proposals were funded for a total cost of $125,000:

    1. Application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)for Soil Survey Upgrading in Ontario University of Guelph

    2. Development, Evaluation and Demonstration of Soil Survey Upgrade; Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

      Phase 1: Evaluate GIS and digital elevation technology compared to conventional air photo interpretation to assign slope classes and proportions to existing soil polygons in the Oxford County pilot study area

      Phase 2: Preparation of a multi-county digital soil map for Oxford and adjacent counties

    3. Unsolicited Proposal: Research and Development of a Methodology for Soil Survey Upgrade and an Information System; Gregory Geoscience.

    Further details are available in the Report on the Soil Survey Upgrade Component by Dr. K.B. MacDonald.

    The remainder of the funds were used to support in-house projects to prepare generalized detailed maps and reports.



    The purpose of the National Soil Conservation Program (NSCP) Research Component was to encourage research related to soil management practices toward the long term productivity of soil. The Research Sub-program was given a budget of $1.1 million for the two year duration of the program. The Research component of the program was administered for Agriculture Canada by the Harrow Research Station.

    The key processes of land use, tillage practices and cropping systems that result in changes in soil quality were studied in terms of the sensitivity of soil to degradation, the conditions under which degradation occurs and its impact on productivity. A major task was research into changes in soil organic matter, nutrients, erosion, and pesticide levels related to land use, tillage practices and cropping systems for intensively cultivated land.

    The initiation of the process to handle this component began in the fall of 1990. Dr. W. I. Findlay was appointed Scientific Authority for the solicitation of proposals for Soil Conservation Research. Through numerous committee meetings and with the assistance of individuals from the private sector, university, OMAF and Agriculture Canada, areas of concern were consolidated to issues which were subsequently developed into a "Statement of Work: which would be part of the Request for Proposals (RFP). Proposals totalling $4.45 million were submitted for consideration against the $1.1 million available. A rigorous review system, often involving out of province referees, was used with a preplanned evaluation criteria form. Twenty-nine referees were involved in the initial cut prior to committee prioritization. Six proposals were selected for contract, three for in-house support and two for contribution agreements. In addition, a literature search on buffer strips was supported.

    All of this effort was completed before Dr. Findlay announced his pending retirement in the late spring of 1991. His dedication and thoroughness as Scientific Authority set the stage and paved the way for the smooth running administration of these research projects.

    Projects were carried out by Agriculture Canada, universities, colleges or other agencies.

    1. The following areas of research were considered for support:

      1. the development of soil management systems that protect fragile land and improve the environment, and are economically viable

      2. the development of indicators of degradation or conservation that can be used in monitoring the resource base

      3. development of methods to improve the transfer of conservation technology, e.g. "expert systems".

    2. Preference was given to projects which were complementary to ongoing Federal and Provincial related research activities in soil and water conservation e.g. Soil and Water Environmental Enhancement Program (SWEEP), Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Land Stewardship Program.

    3. Preference was given to extend existing research projects, as compared to starting new research projects.

    4. Preference was given to projects where there was good potential for commercial application of specific research results that had high potential for improvement of soil and environmental quality.

    Out of 48 proposals seeking $4.5 million, the available $1.1 million, the following research was carried out and reported on:

    Evaluation criteria used in assessing proposals are presented in Research Appendix A.


PART I - RESEARCH CONTRACTS   (Supply & Services Canada)

Universities, College, and Private Agency Competition

Within the general guidelines offered above, specific issues were defined by the Implementation Committee in Ontario for Canada's portion of the agreement. Competitions were based on five issues plus one open category subject to the guidelines above.

One competition was open to Universities, colleges and other agencies in Ontario. It excluded federal research stations and laboratories except where collaborative participation at no additional cost was indicated.

This call for research proposals was distributed through Supply and Services Canada (SSC) with Statements of Work under the following titles for the respective issues:


A "[PDF]" following a Title indicates that a digital copy of the report is available for downloading from the respective Report Summary area.

Issue A

Title :

Soil macropore structures resulting from tillage and their effects on solute transport to tile drains

  1. Effect of Macropores on Contaminant Transport to Tile Drains; Dr. R. G. Kachanoski

Issue B


Manure Management to Sustain Water Quality

  1. The Evaluation of Three Manure Composting Methods for Nitrogen Conservation Environmental Impact, Crop Growth Response and Operating and Maintenance Costs; Dr. D. R. Cressman; R. St. Jean)  [PDF
  2. Manure Management to Sustain Water Quality;Dr. M. J. Goss

Issue C


Prediction of Crop Responses to Changes in Soil Quality

  1. Methodologies for Assessing Soil Structure and for Predicting Crop Response to Changes in Soil Quality; Dr. B. Kay

Issue D


Influence of Soil Management Systems on Soil Quality (e.g. soil biota)

  1. Influence of Soil Management Systems on Soil Quality: Potentially Mineralizable Nitrogen; Dr R. G. Kachanoski

Issue E


Methodologies for Assessing Soil Structure (Degradation) in a meaningful way

  1. Methodologies for Assessing Soil Structure and for Predicting Crop Response to Changes in Soil Quality; Dr. B. Kay

Issue F


Open Category RFP under the NSCP Research Program - 2 projects

  1. The Effect of Soil Quality on Field Scale Runoff under Conventional and Conservation Tillage Systems
    The Effect of Soil Quality on Field Scale Runoff under Conventional and Conservation Tillage Systems; Dr. R. Walker and Dr. R. Tossel [PDF]
  2. Literature Review Pertaining to Buffer Strips
    Literature Review Pertaining to Buffer Strips; D. Robinson [PDF]

Level of Effort

The suggested level of effort was $50,000.00 annually for two years ($100,000) ending March 31, 1993.




The issues to be addressed by Federal Research Stations under Canada's portion of the agreement follow. This competition is based on five issues plus one open category subject to the guidelines above.

The separate call for proposals for in-house research was held for federal research institutions on issues complimentary to those described above.

For these proposals Statements of Work were established under the following titles for the respective issues:


A "[PDF]" following a Title indicates that a digital copy of the report is available for downloading from the respective Report Summary area.

Issue G


Soil Macropore Development as a Mechanism for Root Distribution and Solute Transport

  1. Rainfall simulator - Grid Lysimeter System for Preferential Solute Transport Studies Using Large, Intact Soil Blocks; Dr. B.T. Bowman   [PDF]

Issue H


Composting Manure as a Means of Sustaining Air and Water Quality

insufficient funds

Issue I


Prediction of Crop Seedling Responses to Changes in Soil Quality

insufficient funds

Issue J


Soil Biota as Indicators of Soil Quality

  1. Response of earthworms, soil biota, and soil structure to agricultural practices in corn, soybean, and cereal rotations; Dr. A.D. Tomlin   [PDF]

Issue K


Methodologies for Assessing Soil Organic Matter Sustainability

  1. Crop Residue Decomposition and Organic Matter Dynamics in Alternative Management Systems on Coarse Textured Soils; R. Beyaert

Issue L


Open Category RFP under the NSCP Research Program

insufficient funds

An open category to accommodate unique ideas about soil quality within the terms of the NSCP program not included in the identified issues above. The In-house component was more clearly, but not exclusively related to the effects of cover crops compared to the University and private sector. It was considered that the two lists, those in-house and those to the private sector and University, would be complimentary. Further coordination occurred during proposal review. Redundancies, where noted were resolved among qualified proposals in favour of the private sector.


Level of Effort: The suggested level of effort was $40,000.00 annually for two years ($80,000.00) ending March 31, 1993.


A detailed list of deliverables was provided to the respondents as well as a format for presenting the proposals.


Included with the call for proposals was a copy of the "evaluation criteria" (Appendix A) which was to be used by the Proposal Review Committee when the proposals were reviewed. This Committee consisted of a representative from the following groups: Agriculture Canada, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, University of Guelph, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association and the Scientific Authority (Harrow Research Station representative, as chairman).


An overwhelming response was obtained both from the SSC competition and the in-house call, with 24 and 27 proposals being received in each respectively. The value of 48 proposals deemed appropriate for NSCP funding totalled $4.45 million, a measure of the level of participation by the scientific community.

The proposals were circulated in groups of 4-5 to 29 outside referees who were asked to provide technical evaluations and peer review. The cooperation from soil scientists and other specialists was outstanding. The evaluations by the referees were used by the Proposal Review Committee to generate a short list of the best proposals prior to a meeting for final prioritization.



Two Contribution Agreements (listed below) were supported to continue two ongoing research projects which were deemed extremely important to understanding soil structure and erosion modelling.

  1. The Relationship between Landscape Position, Tillage Practices, and Soil Loss: Model Development. University of Guelph - Dr. R. G. Kachanoski - $76,528.00   [PDF]

  2. Methodologies for Assessing Soil Structure and for Predicting Crop Response to Changes in Soil Quality. University of Guelph - Dr. B. D. Kay - $83,472.00   [PDF]



    The Soil Quality Evaluation Program (SQEP) was initiated in 1989 in response to a requirement of NSCP to monitor soil and associated environmental quality for the agricultural soils in Canada. Considerable funding ($1.1 million from Ontario) for the first three years of this program provided through the NSCP has allowed the Research Branch (CLBRR - Centre for Land and Biological Resource Research) the opportunity to more rapidly develop this program and to provide for it's continuation beyond NSCP.

    The first three years has seen the development of a conceptual framework for the evaluation of soil quality and a Geographic Information System (GIS) capability for regional and national assessments of soil and environmental quality. A primary focus of the program has been on assessing the susceptibility to change in soil quality through the development of improved capabilities to predict soil loss from wind and water erosion, change in the quality and quantity of soil organic matter, change to soil salinity and soil structure, and the impact of agricultural chemicals on soil and groundwater. A land use analysis capability has been established as a means for integrating farming practices and soil quality change and a network of soil quality benchmark sites provide a validation capability for the predictive systems. Finally, enhanced capabilities to evaluate the impact of soil quality change on soil productivity have been developed as a first step toward the evaluation of soil quality within the context of sustainable land management.



    Early in the awareness program approximately $40,000 was transferred to headquarters for National Awareness activities. A contract was signed with Ginty Jocius and Associates. Awareness activities were then coordinated by Ginty Jocius and Associates and the OSCIA (Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association).

    The following is an outline of Awareness activities:

    1. OSCIA Program Division Staff Training

      • NSCP training for OSCIA Field Staff

    2. Program Description and Guidelines

      • Pre-packaged kits available through OSCIA and local OMAF offices

      • NSCP pamphlet available for wide distribution

      • Available in English and French

    3. Provincial Promotion (orchestrated by Ginty Jocius and Associates)

      • Media Release

      • Print Advertisement in "Farm and Country", "Ontario Farmer" and "Agri-Comm". The major ad ran prior to each of the three submission deadlines.

      • NSCP letterhead provided for program correspondence

      • "Farm and Country" newspaper articles describing NSCP opportunities and typical achievements

      • 800 standard metal signs prepared to identify NSCP farm projects

    4. Local Promotion

      • NSCP was part of local Land Stewardship II workshops held in each county/district.

      • Standard slide set provided to each county/district <

      • Colour overhead transparency set made available for sign-out by OSCIA Committees for local program promotion

    5. Demonstration Projects

      • Thirty-one farm demonstration projects established across the province with assistance provided by local partners. (e.g. Conservation Authorities, MNR, OMAF, County/District SCIA)

      • Demonstrations were highlighted in the booklet "Conservation Solutions on Fragile Agricultural Land". The booklet was used as resource material for the launch of the Permanent Cover II program.



    NSCP Program


Created: 09-21-1996
Last revised: Thursday, February 06, 2014 12:54:28 PM