Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, kicked-off a roundtable discussion with Ontario agriculture stakeholders by announcing an investment of $4.2 million to launch Living Lab – Ontario in the Lake Erie region.
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.
“Ontario farmers are leaders in environmentally-smart agriculture and continue to find innovative practices that ensure the long-term health of their lands. The collaborative research approach will help Ontario farmers develop new sustainable practices that can be used by all farmers across the province and the country.”
– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“The framework for collaboration established by Living Labs unites partners in protecting our environment, soil, water, and land. It is inspiring to see as it provides tools for farmers and sets the stage for the road ahead, such as the Agricultural Climate Solutions program. We can do more together.”
– Neil Ellis, Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“The collaborative Living Labs approach is a proven success across the country. Good things grow in Ontario and I am excited to see the results here, particularly with regards to protecting important waterways like Lake Erie, and the ongoing focus on soil health.”
– Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph
“The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association is pleased to be leading the collaborative involved in this new approach to agricultural innovation. Ontario farmers have long been recognized as leaders in developing and adapting farm practices that improve production and protect the environment. 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.”
– Chad Anderson, President, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
“Living Labs is an opportunity for some of Ontario’s most progressive and innovative farmers to connect and work with Canadian agricultural researchers. AAFC staff will gain valuable knowledge by being introduced to new and innovative soil practices, while farmers will have the opportunity to have their ideas and agricultural practices evaluated to assess their benefits. Living Labs is one tool that can put Canadian agriculture on the right path to soil sustainability, improved water quality, and to potentially aid in combatting climate change.”
– Laurent Van Arkel, President, Ontario Soil Network and Living Lab – Ontario participating farmer
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 the fourth Living Lab, following similar collaborations in the Atlantic, Eastern Prairies, and Quebec regions.
The Living Lab – Ontario is located in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair basins and watersheds in southwestern Ontario, where about 75% of the land is used for agriculture. As the smallest and shallowest Great Lake, Lake Erie is particularly sensitive nutrient runoff from human activity.
Partners in Living Lab – Ontario include:
- Ontario farmers
- Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Essex Region Conservation Authority
- Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario
- Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority
- Ontario Soil Network
- Upper Thames River Conservation Authority
The Living Labs approach has been endorsed by the G20 as a model for innovation and collaborative research. It forms the foundation for the Government’s newly announced Agricultural Climate Solutions program, which will adopt a similar collaborative model in every single province while specifically focusing on management practices that trap and store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases.