The On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM) program is a four-year, applied research initiative that began in 2019 which supports soil health and water quality research on farms across Ontario. This program is funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. ONFARM was developed by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) with the support from various organizations including Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, five Conservation Authorities and The Soil Resource Group. ONFARM is also supported by a network of farmer cooperators, who are essential to the success of this program.
ONFARM builds on work completed under the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative’s (GLASI) Priority Sub-watershed Project, supports Ontario’s Soil Health and Conservation Strategy, and helps the industry meet commitments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
The three pillars of ONFARM that will benefit Ontario’s agricultural industry are:
- Continuation of the monitoring and modelling established in the Priority Subwatersheds,
- Establishment of on-farm paired trials in-field to identify soil health indicators and test the effectiveness of best management practices in cooperation with farmers,
- Enhanced engagement opportunities with stakeholders and farmers to foster a network of demonstration farms.
ONFARM will support continued water quality and soil health monitoring in the former GLASI Priority Subwatersheds. Supported activities will include water quality and quantity monitoring, water quality modeling, and examining the cost-effectiveness of different best management practices.
In addition to the Priority Subwatersheds, ONFARM will study soil health in five regions in the province: Lake Erie West, Lake Erie East, Western, Central, and Eastern. Paired soil health BMP trials have been initiated to identify key soil health indicators for Ontario and test effectiveness of BMPs across a variety of soil management and commodity types.