Farmer-Led Research

EFAO’s Farmer-Led Research Program helps farmers combine their curiosity with scientific rigour to answer their most challenging on-farm questions. 

Since 2016 when EFAO launched the Farmer-Led Research Program, more than 50 different farmers have received funding and support to conduct over 60 trial for their farms, and shared results freely with others at field days, workshops, research roundtables and Symposia.

 

Winner of the 2019 Excellence in Agriculture AwardRead more >

Get Involved

Get Involved

What does it mean to be a farmer-researcher? What can you research? How do you apply? Learn more >

Research Library

Research Library

Read and download protocols and reports of farmer-led research projects. Visit Research Library >

Symposium

Symposium

An annual event to gather and discuss farmer-led research findings and plan future research. Learn more >

Guidebook

Guidebook

Learn about EFAO’s Farmer-Led Research Program and other farmer-led research programs. Download >

Get Involved

What is farmer-led research?

What are you curious about on your farm? Do you have an idea for a research or breeding trial and need help designing an experiment? EFAO can help you answer your on-farm questions with financial and technical support. Farmer-led research uses the scientific method in a way that is compatible with your farming and your equipment. It is a flexible and powerful tool that can be integral to improving operations on your farm, including the environmental and economic impacts of your innovations and comparisons.

How do I become a farmer-researcher?

Support is open to all farmers interested in improving or adopting ecological practices on their farm.

To apply for support join us at the Farmer-Led Research Symposium at the end of the year and/or submit a brief research application. The application deadline is in January of each year and applications re-open in the fall.

What can I research?

EFAO supports farmer-led research in the following priority areas, as decided by EFAO member-farmers.

Alternative livestock feed

Alternative livestock feed

Cover Crops

Cover Crops

Disease & pest control

Disease & pest control

Horticulture

Livestock Breed Selection

Livestock

Nutritional Quality

Pasture regeneration

Pasture regeneration

Pollinator services

Pollinator services

Seed production & breeding

Seed production & breeding

Soil Health

Soil Health

Weed Control

Weed Control

What is expected of me as a farmer-researcher?

When conducting farmer-led research in cooperation with EFAO, you will work with EFAO staff to design a project that is appropriate for the question you are asking. Farmer-led research is an added responsibility in an already busy season. In order for your project to be successful, it requires thorough planning in the form of a protocol, good data collection skills and follow-through and communication.

Farmer-researchers are expected to:

  • Help set project parameters
  • Complete research or breeding project following the written protocol
  • Collect and record data as specified
  • Turn in data to EFAO by the date specified in the written protocol
  • Help interpret data analysis and edit research report and poster
  • Keep in contact with EFAO staff with updates and questions
  • Take photos of the project during the season
  • Complete feedback surveys related to the program
  • Invoice EFAO for farmer-fee and approved research expenses by deadline
  • Provide research mentoring, including reviewing related protocols and phone consultation with fellow farmer-researchers on related projects (if applicable)
  • Host an EFAO-organized field day related to the farmer-led research project (if applicable)
  • Attend and present at the Farmer-led Research Symposium that is held in conjunction with the annual EFAO Conference that takes place end of November/early December (if possible)

Who determines the projects that are supported?

EFAO’s Research Committee determines the projects that are funded. The Research Committee is made up of EFAO member-farmers and academic partners. The current Research Committee members are:

Jason Hayes, Matt Jones, Ken Laing, Annie Richard, Darrell Roes, Steven Wolgram and Dr. Ralph Martin, along with EFAO staff Sarah Hargreaves, Rebecca Ivanoff and Heather Coffey

If you want to conduct a project that is not selected for funding, staff can still help with the design process.

What support will I receive from EFAO as a farmer-researcher?

Financial Support

EFAO feels strongly about providing financial support for farmers who participate in the Farmer-Led Research Program. We work to maximize the farmer-stipend and reimbursed research expenses, depending on the funding available.

Currently, financial support is as follows:

  • Current members receive a $500 stipend per farm per project and $250 per farm per variety trial
  • Non-members receive $425 farmer-fee + EFAO membership per farm per project and $175 per farm per variety trial
  • Reimbursement up to $1000 for research expenses pre-approved
  • Complimentary ticket to farmer-led research training events and the Farmer-Led Research Symposium
  • Reimbursement for 1 night stay at hotel for the Farmer-Led Research Symposium

Technical Support

EFAO staff will help throughout the entire project, from design to the final report. Each project is unique, but typical responsibilities for staff include:

  • Help to design project and write a detailed protocol and data collection sheets
  • Analyze, summarize and publish results in the form of a research report
  • Monitor progress of the project and provide support when needed
  • Help collect data if needed
  • Provide stipend and reimbursement for approved expenses for each project that is successfully completed
  • Provide training opportunities related to farmer-led research
  • Deliver or mail a Farmer-Researcher farm gate sign

Please contact Sarah Hargreaves, (226) 582-0626 or sarah@efao.ca, to find out how you can receive support to conduct research for your farm. 

Funding

This program was made possible by funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and The Robert and Moira Sansom Ideas Foundation, a fund within the London Community Foundation.

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