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SWEEP Report #79

Technology Transfer Report Summaries: Soil and Water
Environmental Enhancement Program (SWEEP)

A. Hayes, OMAF, Ridgetown, Ont.; L. Cruickshank, OMAF, Brantford, Ont.; B. Kennedy, T. Taylor, OMAF, Guelph, Ont.; H. Lammers-Helps, Soil and Water Conservation Information Bureau, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont.; B. Lovell, OMAF, Woodstock, Ont.; K. Reid, OMAF, Walkerton, Ont.

Executive Summary

Download / View Final Report [339  KB pdf]



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Completed: March, 1993


  1. The Soil and Water Environmental Enhancement Program (SWEEP)


    • To reduce phosphorous loading in the Lake Erie basin by 200 tonnes per year by 1990, from non-point agricultural cropland sources.

    • To maintain or improve the productivity of southwestern Ontario agriculture by reducing or arresting soil erosion and degradation.


The impetus for the program was the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, calling for a reduction in phosphorous pollution in the Lake Erie basin of 2000 tonnes per year.

Canada agreed to reduce phosphorous run-off by 300 tonnes per year - 200 from agricultural cropland sources and 100 from industrial and municipal sources by 1990.

The achievement of these reductions over five years would improve water quality for drinking, recreation and fishing. Improved soil conservation practices to reduce phosphorous run-off would benefit farmers greatly in crop yield increases and in cost savings from more efficient soil management.

In order to accomplish the program objectives, Canada and Ontario carried out five year programs of co-ordinated and complementary activities with farmers, farm and other organizations. These programs were intended to build up a stock of technology that could be extended to farmers now and in the future.

Federal Responsibilities

  1. Technology Assessment Panel, Conservation Information Bureau and Socio-Economic Evaluation

    1. Technology Assessment Panel

      Made up of leading soil and water specialists and farm community representatives, the technology assessment panel was responsible for assessing the suitability of soil conservation equipment and cropping methods for Ontario farmers. The panel also assessed research results from federal, provincial, university and private sector establishments.


    2. Soil and Water Conservation Information Bureau

      The Soil and Water Conservation Information Bureau was set up to collect, catalogue, store and distribute technical data on soil conservation. The bureau produced a newsletter for farmers, set up several databases of soil and water information and helped to organize the Innovative Farmers of Ontario - No-till, Ridge till Workshop for four years.


    3. Socio-Economic Evaluation

      Studies were funded to examine the impact of current programs on the adoption of conservation technologies, and how these programs could be improved.


    4. Technology Evaluation and Development

      Centred at Agriculture Canada's Harrow, Ontario, Research Station, this project provided funding for the development, adaption, evaluation and the opportunity for validation of new or untested technology related to soil productivity and to phosphorus and chemical movement from cropland to water systems. The areas covered under soil productivity included soil and water conservation cropping, conservation planting, conservation tillage equipment, and soil drainage. Where possible, it was conducted with the co-operation of farmers under commercial farm conditions.


    5. Pilot Watershed Study

      This program looked at the effectiveness of introducing comprehensive soil and water conservation practices to the farms in a small test watershed and comparing them to a control watershed. The three paired watersheds were located in southwestern Ontario: Kettle Creek, between St. Thomas and London; Pittock, north of Woodstock; and Essex, just east of the town of Essex. Water quality and quantities were monitored by the federal and provincial Environment ministries.

Provincial Responsibilities

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) enhanced its existing soil and water program capability using SWEEP in three ways: through local demonstrations, through technical assistance and through soil and water conservation management incentives.

  1. Local Demonstrations

    To promote wider adoption of proven soil and water conservation technology, many soil and crop management demonstrations were implemented. These demonstrations were mostly side-by-side plots, comparing cropping rotations, and various tillage and cultural practices.

    An additional demonstration project, called Tillage 2000, was established on 30-40 farm sites for five years to examine the effects of conservation tillage practices and crop rotations and provide data to shape these practices for the year 2000.


  2. Technical Assistance

    Field level professional conservation advice was provided to farmers by ministry staff with expertise in soils and crops, soil conservation, soil and water engineering and farm management. OMAF also assisted farmers in organizing field days demonstrating soil and water conservation management practices, and workshops to discuss local problems.

    A number of factsheets, videos and brochures were produced on erosion control structures and conservation tillage.


  3. Management Incentives

    To reduce phosphorous loading of water systems, financial incentives were directed toward controlling the movement of water and sediment from lands that are intensively cropped. Soil erosion in ditches and on stream banks delivers sediment and phosphorous to the streams.

    The five-year $25.5 million Ontario Soil Conservation and Environmental Protection Assistance Program (OSCEPAP) was made part of SWEEP and extended for two years to 1990 to operate for the full five years of the joint agreement. OSCEPAP provided advice, demonstrations and grants to farmers on manure management, erosion control and alternative cropping practices.


Future Research: ( ) indicates reviewers suggestion for priority, A - high, C - low.

  1. The Technology Transfer Committee Research often provides information which helps us to further our understanding of a particular situation. Rarely is a large amount of money spent in one area of study. The Soil and Water Environmental Enhancement Program (SWEEP) was able to devote a sizeable amount of money to further our understanding in the areas of soil movement/loss, soil conservation and water quality.

    The research components of SWEEP produced close to a hundred reports. To most people that amount of paper is overwhelming. Often research is written up in a report that sits on someone's shelf and is not used because it takes too much time to read through the report to find the useful information. The Technology Transfer Committee (TTC) was formed to try to sift through the SWEEP reports and pull out the useful information.

    The TTC was formed by combining the staff resources of the Resources Management Branch and the Plant Industry Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF), then adding the Soil and Water Conservation Information Bureau (SWCIB), the secretary of the Technology Assessment Panel (TAP) and the Scientific Authority of the Technology Evaluation and Development (TED) component of SWEEP. The goal of the committee was to summarize each of the SWEEP reports and put them in a format that was useful for extension staff, researchers and agribusiness.

    Included on the format chosen were key words so the summaries could be included in the SWCIB database. In addition to the summary section a comments section was included to give the reviewer an opportunity to combine his/her knowledge and experience with the results of the study. It also allowed the reviewer to indicate what parts of the study have direct practical application in the field. Associated SWEEP and Land Stewardship Program Research were included to direct the reader to other sources of information on the topic. Future research was added because the committee thought that the person reviewing a report would have a good idea if further research was warranted in that area.




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Created: 05-28-1996
Last Revised: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:33:10 AM