Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS)

Farmers located in the Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair watersheds are encouraged to apply for LEADS funding. The next application intake for 2022 will be communicated once finalized. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association administers LEADS.

Declining water quality has been a significant concern in parts of Lake Erie. To support water quality improvements in Lake Erie, Ontario has committed to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie's western and central basins by 40 per cent by 2025. LEADS targeted programming under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) will build on the substantial leadership that Ontario farmers in the Lake Erie watershed have demonstrated in taking action to improve soil health and water quality.

Farmers will work one-on-one with a participating certified crop advisor or professional agrologist, free of charge, to identify best management practices (BMPs) tailored to the specific needs of their operation. By implementing BMPs recommended through the Farmland Health Check-Up (FHCU), farmers can respond to the greatest soil health and nutrient loss risks on their farms and make a difference to their bottom line and the health of Ontario's Great Lakes.

LEADS will target the Lake Erie watershed to address the following priorities:

  • Reducing nutrient loss, in particular, phosphorus from agriculture production within Ontario's Lake Erie watershed.
  • Improving soil health of farmland.
  • Providing co-benefits for enhancing pollinator habitat and building resilience to climate change while strengthening the sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Map of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds

Figure 1. Map of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds.

Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS)

LEADS funding targets farmers in the Lake Erie watershed to respond to the greatest soil health and nutrient loss risks on their farms through the following opportunities:

  • Completion of a FHCU by a participating certified crop advisor or professional agrologist to assess farmland's environmental risk.
  • Adoption of on-farm management practices to improve soil health and water quality.

Important Information

Farmers located in the Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair watersheds are encouraged to apply for LEADS funding. Application intake will open on January 15, 2020 and will remain open until funding is fully allocated. Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association will administer LEADS.

Merit-based Cost-Share Funding

Applications will be assessed with the information provided in the farmer's completed FHCU risk assessment tool. Approved projects will receive cost-share funding between 45 and 65 per cent in proportion to the level of risk identified in the applicant's FHCU.

Eligibility Requirements

Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability Project Categories that Target Water Quality and Soil Health Improvements

Project Category Actions
Adding Organic Amendments Spreading solid organic amendments to soil
Riparian Buffer Strips Permanent vegetated buffer strips next to water
Cover Crops Covering soil over winter to reduce erosion risks
Fragile Land Retirement Removing fragile landscapes from active production
Equipment to Apply Manure Modifications to equipment to effectively spread manure
Modifications to Reduce Soil Compaction Modifications to reduce soil compaction
Crop Nutrient Plans Funding to support the development of Crop Nutrient Plans
Structural Erosion Control Erosion control structures and storm water management
Tillage and Nutrient Application Equipment Modifications Equipment modifications for no-till and reduced tillage, fertilizer management, and residue management
Windbreaks and Wind Strips Establishing vegetation to reduce wind erosion to prevent soil loss

Partnership for Agriculture, Government of Ontario & Canada


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca