Governments Improving Lake Erie Water Quality

From: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Investments increase environmental sustainability and productivity

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing more than $2.5 million to help farmers improve water quality and soil health in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS) initiative will support 220 farmer-led, regionally targeted cost-share projects to help farmers improve soil health and reduce the risk of nutrient losses on their farms located in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds.

These LEADS projects build on the environmental successes achieved through the more than 700 on-farm projects completed in this key watershed area in the first three years of the initiative. These projects demonstrate Canada and Ontario’s commitment to the environment while also helping farmers be more productive.

LEADS-supported projects help farmers implement a variety of on-farm best management practices. Projects have helped reduce the risk of soil loss and nutrient loss and improved water quality in its target region through implementing a variety of best on-farm management practices.

Farmers in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds have conducted an Environmental Farm Plan and a Farmland Health Check-Up prior to the implementation of the eligible 220 farmer-led projects. Those projects cover the following areas:

  • 16 projects to add organic amendments to soil
  • 25 projects to plant cover crops
  • 11 projects to making equipment modifications to improve manure applications
  • 97 projects for equipment modifications to reduce soil compaction
  • 1 project to plant riparian buffer strips
  • 3 projects to put in erosion control structures
  • 63 projects to make tillage and nutrient application equipment modifications
  • 3 projects to plant windbreaks and wind strips
  • 1 project to prepare a crop nutrient plan

LEADS supports the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan and aligns with the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, committing to a 40 per cent reduction of phosphorus run off into Lake Erie and its watershed.

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed cost-share support to more than 4,400 projects through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

Quotes

“This is a great story of collaboration to tackle a pressing environmental concern. Together, working side-by-side with farmers in Ontario and the Government of Ontario, we are helping give farmers the resources they need to continue adopting sustainable practices. This initiative will go a long way to improving farmers’ soil health and the water quality in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watershed areas.”

– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“LEADS is a fantastic initiative that provides support for farmers to improve sustainable practices that improve water quality and soil health. Our government is making significant investments to protect and improve Ontario’s natural environment and LEADS is an important part of that plan.”

– The Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

“Environmental Collaboration Ontario (ECO Ag) is very supportive of programs like LEADS, which support farmers implementing practical environmental solutions on their farm. We thank the provincial and federal governments for making these investments possible as the sector increases its overall environmental performance.”

– Jan VanderHout, chair of ECO Ag

Quick facts

  • LEADS is a five-year commitment by the federal and provincial governments to help farmers take action to improve soil health and water quality in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watershed areas.

  • The Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors. This includes a $2 billion commitment that is cost-shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially/territorially for programs that are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.

  • The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 837,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.5 billion each year to the province’s economy.

  • The Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is an Ontario farm community led initiative through the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition. The EFP is a voluntary and free 2-day workshop for farm families to increase their environmental awareness in up to 23 different areas of their farm.

  • The Farmland Health Check-Up provides farmers the opportunity to work with a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) or a Professional Agrologist (P.Ag) free of charge to assess risks to on-farm soil health and water quality. Assessments look at erosion, subsurface compaction, organic matter, soil life and chemistry, phosphorus, nitrogen and pollinator health.

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has invested $4.2 million in the Living Laboratories Initiative in Ontario’s Lake Erie basin. Living Lab – Ontario will focus on reducing soil losses and nutrient runoff from agricultural land into Lake Erie to improve water quality as well as conserving soil health and increasing biodiversity on farms.

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