Place to Grow Guide for Applicants: Soil Health and Water Quality

Soil Health and Water Quality: Assessment and Planning

Purpose of Project Category:

Projects will focus on encouraging agricultural sector leadership and regional partnerships in developing sector-level or regional plans, or larger systems analysis (sector evaluation or analysis, sustainability systems), for improving soil health or water quality.

Target Audience

Partners with a focus on the agriculture or agri-food sector, environment, or conservation with projects supporting improvements in water quality undertaken in a geographical area that must have demonstrated nutrient related water quality impairments or with projects supporting soil health, undertaken in geographical areas with degraded soil health.

Eligible Projects

  • Developing sector-level plans
  • Conducting assessments
  • Conducting audits or analysis

Examples of projects

Development of decision support tools for agricultural producers to support reduced nutrient loss from agricultural land

Project Category Priorities

  • Projects related to water quality must be undertaken in geographic area(s) with demonstrated nutrient related water quality impacts, with a priority for the Lake Erie basin
  • Projects related to soil health must by undertaken in geographic areas with degraded soil health
  • Projects that help an agriculture sector quantify or demonstrate their sources of phosphorus loss or soil degradation to their producers
  • Sector or geography focused implementation plans and/or tools to support improved planning or risk assessments at the farm, regional or provincial scales
  • Decision support tools, IT projects, and similar activities must be able to demonstrate they are fulfilling a planning need not yet addressed, and will have wide-spread use, through the written support from representatives of end users
  • Projects demonstrating whole-farm approaches
  • Partnerships bringing in new partners, e.g., academics and conservation authorities, bringing diversity of thought and approaches, from other sectors and disciplines, to the activities that increase the likelihood of projects leading to behavior change

Recommended Cost-share

  • Up to $400,000 per project per year

Eligible Activities

  • All eligible activities must be linked to the development of an assessment, audit, analysis or plan
  • Planning and decision support tools, technologies, and software that build on existing tools or meet gaps in current decision support tool landscape
  • Analysis and assessment required to develop production systems based case studies and decision tools that simplify the selection of agri-environmental best management practices (BMPs) for a specific production system, taking into consideration site specific risks (e.g., topography, nearby waterbodies, etc.)
  • IT software system selection and configuration for the first-time establishment, initial data entry and training of users for multi-partner systems associated with development of a plan
  • Data collection, materials, sampling and analysis
  • Measuring, benchmarking and baseline assessments at a subwatershed or sector level, regarding nutrients or soils including sample design and collection strategies which should be prepared with input from academic and government leaders to support use of comparable methodologies, with the intent to facilitate data sharing
  • Activities improving the use and management of nutrients, water, wastewater and soils

Ineligible Activities

  • Providing cost-share funding for implementation of BMPs on individual producers' properties (but may include support for cost-share funding for BMPs on demonstration farms properties)
  • Establishing IT systems necessary to meet ordinary operations/business needs

Terms and Conditions

Soil Health and Water Quality: Outreach, Education and Advisory Services

Purpose of Project Category:

Projects will focus on improving the transfer of knowledge to agricultural producers on the importance and approaches to mitigate risks to water and soil quality through targeted site-specific actions. The intent of knowledge transfer activities is to encourage actions in support of reducing excess nutrients entering the waterways in the Great Lakes basin from agricultural sources.

Approaches must encourage the use of multiple best management practices (BMPs) in a whole-farm approach and include defined target audiences intended to be reached through communications. Projects may include work to characterize and better understand the audience to inform the communications activities.

Projects may be anticipated to support co-benefits including:

  • Increased resiliency of farm businesses to extreme weather events and climate change
  • Improved agricultural productivity through increased efficiency in crop inputs and soil health improvements
  • Improved water management on-farm
  • Improved habitat for pollinators and other species

Target Audience

Partners that have an education, outreach or advisory services plan, with a focus on supporting improvements in water quality (undertaken in a geographical area that must have demonstrated nutrient related water quality impairments) or supporting soil health, (undertaken in geographical areas with degraded soil health), targeting the agriculture or agri-food sector

Eligible Projects

  • Outreach strategies
  • Training sessions
  • Knowledge acquisition and knowledge sharing
  • Workshops
  • Tours
  • Communications, including background work to characterize and better understand methods to reach intended audiences

Examples of projects

Implementation of a plan that outlines a multi-channel, multi-venue approach to communicate messages and/or advice around soil health and water quality outcomes. This could include a mix of approaches including workshops, field days, speaker series, booths or presentations at existing farm events, print or online materials, or developing a new symposium or conference

Project Category Priorities

  • Projects related to water quality must be undertaken in geographic area(s) with demonstrated nutrient related water quality impacts, with a priority for the Lake Erie basin
  • Projects related to soil health must by undertaken in geographic areas with degraded soil health
  • Projects that help an agriculture sector quantify or demonstrate their sources of phosphorus loss or soil degradation to their producers
  • Activities should be informed by science and are encouraged to make use of innovative messaging and behavior change strategies
  • Projects that demonstrate evidence of planning, coordination and execution among partners or through confirmed engagement and support of other parties, including integrating environmental and agronomy expertise
  • Projects supporting a whole-farm approach
  • Projects including, where possible, economic factors such as input costs and yield assessment in the communications
  • Projects supporting innovative outreach approaches (not commonly used in Ontario), where the project includes an evaluation of effectiveness of the innovative outreach approach
  • Projects that are implementing collaborative and/or existing comprehensive plans with multiple tactics to best fit information to need of audience and maximize reach of messaging

Recommended Cost-share

  • Up to $250,000 per project per year

Eligible Activities

  • Activities related to the on-farm development of knowledge and skills required to, or advisory services to actively manage the use of nutrients, water, wastewater and soils to reduce the potential for off-site impacts from operations
  • Activities must target producers or their advisors
  • Options of activities, in any combination, may include but are not limited to:
    • developing course materials
    • delivery of training courses
    • outreach strategies
    • workshops
    • demonstrations
    • tours
    • peer-to-peer networks and clubs
    • printed written and web based materials
    • farm-based advisory services
    • first-time only conferences and symposia, with incremental new activities to be supported, where producers and agri-business are the primary audience along with conservation professionals with the intent of building inter-disciplinary knowledge and relationships to support future on-the-ground stewardship action on-farm

Ineligible Activities

  • Providing cost-share funding for BMPs on individual producers' properties (but may include support for cost-share funding for BMPs on demonstration farms properties)

Terms and Conditions

Soil Health and Water Quality: Innovation Pilots and Applied Research

Purpose of Project Category:

Projects will focus on supporting applied research and demonstrations of technology, with selection driven by industry, where technology and/or practices need validation and demonstration on Ontario farms to overcome barriers to adoption identified by the sector. Projects will also increase knowledge of innovative technology and practice implementation with impacts to soil and water (on-site and off-site impacts) through pilots on-farm. Education and outreach initiatives, including economic assessment (i.e. yield and/or profitability assessments), will help to strengthen project activities related to soil health and/or water quality.

Target Audience

Partners with a focus on the agriculture or agri-food sector, environment, or conservation with projects supporting improvements in water quality undertaken in a geographical area that must have demonstrated nutrient related water quality impairments or with projects supporting soil health, undertaken in geographical areas with degraded soil health

Eligible Projects

  • Projects must address soil health and/or address surface water quality across a watershed area or for a water body with demonstrated phosphorus stress
  • Applied research and testing of new technologies
  • Pilot projects
  • Demonstration projects
  • Projects must demonstrate knowledge/expertise and networks for knowledge translation and transfer and include a knowledge translation and transfer plan
  • Projects must demonstrate an understating of current state of knowledge of the practice or technology

Examples of Projects

  • Evaluating soil degradation and phosphorus loss from farms on a site-specific basis where the information is used to inform modeling, education/outreach efforts, tool development, and/or practice selection
  • Evaluating methods to improve water quality and soil health, through mitigating or managing risks to surface and ground water, such as practices to reduce soil erosion, more efficiently managed nutrients, or technologies to capture and treat run-off

Project Category Priorities

  • Projects related to water quality must be undertaken in geographic area(s) with demonstrated nutrient related water quality impacts, with a priority for the Lake Erie basin
  • Projects related to soil health must by undertaken in geographic areas with degraded soil health
  • Projects that help an agriculture sector quantify or demonstrate their sources of phosphorus loss or soil degradation to their producers
  • Applied research should be addressing an identified gap and/or building on past efforts

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • Are planned and executed in partnerships with industry
  • Are supporting a broad impact across a sector or a geographical area to address an identified agri-environmental risk (i.e. have high potential for widespread adoption and high likelihood of impact
  • Can demonstrate the research gap/need has yet to be addressed and/or has come from the sector or government as priority
  • Quantify the benefit to the environmental outcome (e.g., quantifies the phosphorus loss reduction)
  • Support risk assessment and/or decision-making tool development or enhancement
  • Include economic factors such as input costs and yield assessment in the analysis
  • Support a whole-farm approach and multiple-BMP analysis
  • Pilot test technologies not currently in widespread use within the production system in Ontario

Recommended Cost-share

  • Up to $200,000 per project per year

Eligible Activities

  • Evaluating methods to improve water quality and soil health, through mitigating or managing risks to surface and ground water, such as practices to reduce soil erosion, more efficiently managed nutrients, or technologies to capture and treat run-off
  • Applied research and piloting/testing of new technologies, processes, practices or systems
  • Benchmarking or analysis of environmental performance of best management practices, sectors or operations
  • Implementing BMPs on demonstration farms may be considered

Ineligible Activities

  • Activities that do not contribute to addressing soil health and surface water quality across a watershed area or for a water body with demonstrated phosphorus stress

Terms and Conditions

Logos of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the Government of Ontario, and the Government of Canada.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Firstname SPACE Lastname SPACE HYPHEN SPACE Title/Affiliation
(eg. John Doe - Crop Specialist/University of Guelph)
Use a SEMI COLON to separate multiple entries:
(eg. John Doe - Crop Specialist/University of Guelph; Jane Doe - Crop Specialist/OMAFRA)
Creation Date: 31 July 2019
Last Reviewed: 31 July 2019