Soil and Water Environmental Enhancement Program (SWEEP), a
federal-provincial program designed to reduce the volume of phosphorus
being transported to Lake Erie, consisted of seven sub-programs. The
federal programs included: the Pilot Watershed Studies; the Technology
Assessment Panel; the Conservation Information Bureau; and the
Socio-economic Evaluation. Each sub-program was managed by a private
sector contractor except the Socio-Economic Evaluation.
The province of Ontario
was responsible for: Local Demonstrations;
Technical Assistance; and Soil Conservation
Incentives. The two levels of government were jointly responsible
for the Administration, Monitoring and Public
SWEEP operated with the
support and participation of four government ministries: Agriculture
Canada; Environment Canada; the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and
Food; and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
The SWEEP objectives
To reduce phosphorus
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 erosion and other forms of soil degradation.
The evaluation was
conducted using an evaluation framework consistent with procedures
specified by the Office of the Comptroller General, Treasury Board of
Canada. The data used to conduct the evaluation come from program
reports and interviews with 10 program staff, 25 key respondents, 5
contractors and a survey of 427 farmers. A sample of 800 farmers from
the SWEEP area selected by Statistics Canada were mailed a questionnaire
In addition to 327 who returned questionnaires, 100 were interviewed on
the telephone by Statistics Canada staff.
The two major objectives
were investigated utilizing 13 evaluation issues for which various
research questions were developed. The major evaluation issues and
conclusions are outlined below.
The issue of whether or
not the target of reducing phosphorus loading in the SWEEP study area by
200 tonnes per year by 1990 was achievable with existing and
technologies developed by SWEEP could not be resolved. The question was
not answered because the Overview Model has yet to provide the necessary
data and a decrease of that amount on over 400,000 hectares was next to
impossible to achieve through conservation technologies alone.
It was found that while
the phosphorus loading has been reduced in the SWEEP area, the 200 tonne
per year objective was not met. Major measurement problems were
experienced due to the lack of adequate rainfall events and the
unavailability of the results of a farm survey.
Effects of Conservation
practices promoted by SWEEP had a positive input on the agricultural
productivity of the area. The measurement of the overall impact on the
area was dependent upon measures of the adoption of various tillage
practices. These data are not yet available.
The Farm Level Economic
Analysis data demonstrated that conservation tillage is less risky,
provides a larger net income and reduces the cost of soil erosion when
compared to conventional tillage on individual farms.
The SWEEP research
activities, plus activities of the Conservation Information Bureau and
extension personnel, have both created and disseminated a substantial
volume of conservation information to farmers. The levels of awareness
of and knowledge about conservation practices by farmers have increased
The attitudes of farmers
to soil and water conservation are believed to have become more
Impact of SWEEP
While it is difficult to
demonstrate causality, it is believed that the program both increased
knowledge and the adoption of conservation practices. Much of the
information received by farmers comes from non-SWEEP sources who may be
disseminating SWEEP generated research and other activities.
Research and Expertise
The program increased
research activity and the capability of the private sector. Many
consultants acquired or updated their research skills, new equipment was
developed and farmers became much more active in conducting research on
their own farms.
Few negative program
effects were observed. There were unanticipated delays and difficulties
in conducting the Pilot Watershed Studies. Several staff and key
respondents commented that more information and greater cooperation
occurred than anticipated.
structure which consisted of several committees did not provide adequate
information flow or control. The lack of a single individual who had
overall authority for the program and who could provide timely decisions
was discussed. The contracting out procedures proved controversial and
some difficulties arose. Suggestions for improved management systems
Cost Effectiveness and
The program was found to
be relatively cost effective given its innovative nature. A tighter
management system and better communication might have increased
efficiency. Concern was expressed regarding the opportunity to continue
research in the Pilot Demonstration Watersheds and to utilize research
skills developed during the program.
The CIB component was
evaluated in greater detail than the other program components at the
request of the client. Flaws in and difficulties developing from the
organizational structure and management procedures were identified. The
control of the CIB was considered relatively weak due partly to the
organizational structure and control procedures. It was determined that
the CIB had created and disseminated a substantial volume of useful
information. The adequacy of funding was discussed in view of a budget