A $4.2 million investment has been made by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to launch Living Lab – Ontario in the Lake Erie region to collaborate with Ontario farmers on developing sustainable solutions to environmental issues.
Living Lab – Ontario is the latest collaboration hub created under the Living Laboratories Initiative, which brings together farmers, scientists, and other partners to develop, test and share innovative agricultural practices and technologies.
Led by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), Living Lab – Ontario collaborators will include farmers, agricultural and conservation organizations, and scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and other federal departments. Their research will focus on reducing the soil and nutrient runoff from agricultural land into Lake Erie, improving water quality, conserving soil health, and increasing biodiversity on agricultural lands in Ontario. They will share their expertise with farmers across Canada to help accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies.
The Living Laboratories Initiative is part of a $70 million investment outlined in Budget 2017 to further support agricultural discovery science and innovation, with a focus on climate change, soil and water conservation, and biodiversity.
The Living Lab – Ontario is located in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair basins and watersheds in southwestern Ontario, where about 75 per cent of the land is used for agriculture. As the smallest and shallowest Great Lake, Lake Erie is particularly sensitive to nutrient runoff from human activity.
OSCIA President Chad Anderson said in a release that “on-farm applied research has been a core principle of the organization since its inception in 1939 and Living Lab – Ontario provides an ideal opportunity to create a stronger network of innovation among the partners and Ontario’s farmers. Working together with these partners we have a unique opportunity to create and test practices that will provide farmers with solutions to enhance production and improve sustainability.”