Guelph – The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) has been selected as one of eight organizations that will receive funding from The Weston Family Soil Health Initiative this year, to support its work to promote more adaptive and resilient agricultural lands.
This grant will support EFAO’s Small Grains Program to continue to increase and evaluate the adoption of small grains and cover crops across Ontario. The program uses a reverse auction model and a farmer network that connects growers with farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing and agronomic training opportunities. Over the next four years, the funding will allow EFAO to hold seven reverse auctions, which will put money directly into the pockets of Ontario farmers to support them to grow small grains and cover crops.
“We know that diversifying rotations by including small grains and cover crops increases soil organic matter, so this project is a win-win for soil health and farmers,” says Ali English, Executive Director of EFAO. “And the opportunity to better understand how reverse auctions can support farmers to take up these beneficial practices is very exciting. We’re so grateful to the Weston Family Foundation for prioritizing this work.”
Research shows that improving soil health on agricultural lands offers one of the largest and most immediate opportunities to improve biodiversity and mitigate climate change in Canada. Improving soil health by increasing soil organic matter helps to improve water retention, supports carbon sequestration, and makes agro-ecosystems more resilient and better able to recover and adapt to environmental stresses such as drought and floods.
“It’s exciting to be moving forward with this important project, and it feels good to be supporting farmers who are making production decisions for soil health,” says Dr. Sarah Larsen, EFAO’s Research and Small Grains Program Director. “Small grains are harvested in the summer, which allows for good establishment of a fall cover crop and, in turn, continuous ground cover and living roots. Data from long-term studies show that diversifying rotations with small grains increases soil organic matter by increasing crop yield and productivity, soil microbial activity and deposition of organic matter,” she adds.
The first of seven intakes for this program was launched in December, but farmers who are interested can follow EFAO on social media (@EFAO2) or subscribe to either EFAO’s general e-newsletter or the small grains e-newsletter for updates about future intakes.
Laura Northey, Communications & Engagement Director
About the Weston Family Soil Health Initiative:
The Weston Family Soil Health Initiative is a five-year, $10 million funding opportunity that aims to expand the adoption of ecologically based beneficial management practices (BMPs) that increase soil organic matter to improve biodiversity and resiliency on agricultural lands across Canada.
For more information about the Weston Family Soil Health Initiative, please visit https://westonfoundation.ca/project/weston-family-soil-health-initiative/ and follow us on Twitter @westonfamilyfdn.