The Living Laboratories Initiative (the Initiative) is a network of Living Labs across Canada, supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), where farmers, researchers, agricultural organizations and environmental organizations can work together on real working farms to develop innovative practices and approaches to address local agro-ecosystem challenges.

Through the Initiative researchers and farmers develop and test innovations in the field.  The aim is to develop practical technologies and practices that make sense for Canadian farmers to help them adjust to climate change, reduce water contamination, improve soil and water conservation, and maximize habitat capacity and biodiversity on agricultural landscapes. 

In 2019 the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) was chosen to lead the Living Lab - Ontario (LL-ON) project.  Under the leadership of the OSCIA, the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario, Ontario Soil NetworkEssex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA)Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) are working together with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada on this project.  The Living Lab -Ontario project focuses the work of numerous scientists from both AAFC and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) on 6 farms in the Lake Erie basin.      

The research conducted in Ontario focuses on reducing soil and nutrient runoff from agricultural land into Lake Erie, improving water quality, conserving soil health, and increasing biodiversity on agricultural lands in Ontario.

Join the Living Lab Conversation

The six farm cooperators in the LL-ON project will be sharing their experience and results in five panel discussions. Farm collaborators will be joined by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientists and other farm innovators and experts who will share results and takeaways from the 2021 on-farm research season in this speaker series. 

Click here to attend these panel discussions. 

  • Innovations in Small Grains: Hosted at the EFAO Conference, December 1, 2021 Featuring Greg Vermeersch, Brett Israel, Eric Page and Joe Wecker discussing their experience with relay cropping in barley, double-cropping and ancient grains. A recording of the session can be viewed https://vimeo.com/654185914/6823f16661
  • Doing On-Farm Research: Jan. 21, 10 am, Ontario Soil Network Conference Andy Van Niekerk, Dr. Sarah Larsen, Dr. Ian Scott, and other LL-ON farmers & researchers discuss their on-farm research ... and help you plan your own trials!
  • Grazing Cover Crops: Feb 8, 1pm, OSCIA’s Annual General Meeting Mike Groot, Steve Sickle, Christine O’Reilly and others discuss how to integrate grazing livestock into your crop rotation, and what it does for your soil and your bottom line.
  • Full time cover crops: Feb 17, 1pm, IFAO Conference Woody Van Arkel, Ken Laing, Dr. Xueming Yang and Anne Verhallen at the IFAO conference to discuss perennial cover crop strips, planted green field crops and vegetables; taking cover crops to a whole new level.
  • Healthy Soil, Clean Water: Mar. 8, 10am, Essex Region Conservation Authority Henry Denotter, Dr. Katie Stammler and others discuss farming to reduce nutrient loss. This will include results of watershed and edge-of-field water quality monitoring from Living Lab-ON and ONFARM with ERCA, LTVCA and UTRCA.