This is the central location of the ONFARM Q&A document. All questions directed to OSCIA during the RFP process, and the associated answers, will be posted on this webpage to provide all applicants with identical information.
Updated June 17, 2021
1. To conduct a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA), the data on economic costs of BMPs need to be estimated. May I ask if the watershed modelling team is required to estimate BMP costs or the BMP cost data will be provided by Conservation Authorities or other groups?
For Agronomic-type water quality protection BMPs, a sub-task assigned to the Conservation Authorities and soil health consultants (working on the side-by-side trials), monitoring the select study watersheds is to establish and monitor the side-by-side soil health BMP in-field comparison trials and to collect cost information. This will include collection of partial cost-of-production budgets to document costs/savings associated with implementing BMP practices used in the watersheds or compared in the side-by-sides relative to current or past/baseline practices. For structural-type water quality protection BMPs (e.g water and sediment control basins, grassed waterways, wetland establishment), the costs of construction, annual maintenance cost and expected life will be documented. This information will be gathered through a combination of field observations, and participating ONFARM landowner/cooperator interviews The CBA analysis information obtained in this manner will be limited to the range of BMPs employed in the ONFARM watersheds and applied on the Soil Health Side-by Sides. For a general overview of the types of BMPs being assessed in the soil health side-by-sides and in the monitored watersheds, refer to the summary descriptions of the various field trials and watersheds available at: https://www.osciaresearch.org/onfarm-applied-research/onfarm-interactive-map/
Note that the BMPs that may be of interest for modelling scenarios may not have cost data collected under the ONFARM program. For those situations it will be necessary for the modellers to search out, document, and rely on alternate literature sources as the means of approximating the economic cost/benefit of establishing BMPs. Examples of sources of such information may include but is not limited to the Soil Health Institute https://soilhealthinstitute.org/economics/, other related programs like work undertaken in the Chesapeake Bay or the US portion of the Lake Erie basin, or other initiatives which employ similar best practices as recommended and promoted in Ontario (i.e the list of BMPs currently eligible for cost share as provided in the RFP).
2. Regarding "estimating Return on Investment (ROI) to the producer", the economic value of "Return" needs to be estimated.
a) What is the scope of the "Return"? Is this "private" return (related to producers only) or "public and public" return (related to producers and society)?
The scope of this model is to estimate the ROI at a private scale, which is directly related to the producers.
b) The BMP benefits can be represented in biophysical terms (such as kg of P reduction). How to convert BMP benefits to monetary value? Using literature values?
The sub-watersheds being monitored by the selected Conservation Authorities in ONFARM are instrumented with water flow and water quality monitoring equipment at/near the watershed outlet and at least 1 edge-of-field location within the watershed. It is anticipated that these time-series observations, which are being compiled in a consistent database format across all watersheds (WISKI system) will be made available to the modellers to calibrate and validate their models. Water flow and quality data is only being collected on the study watersheds and from 6 select side-by-side soil health trials embedded within these watersheds. The remaining soil health field trials will not have water quality information associated with them but will have soil characteristics measured which may inform model parameterization. The Conservation Authorities are expected to derive watershed loadings directly using the flow and water quality sample results acquired. It is anticipated that the field observations at the edge-of-field sites will also be used directly to determine kg P reductions for the select BMPs tested at these edge-of-field locations. The modellers will be expected to use these same watershed and edge-of field data to calibrate, validate and refine their models to arrive at long-term mean or average estimates of watershed loadings as well as be able to use the models to estimate kg P, kg N and kg sediment reductions associated with select BMP practices established across the watershed or at particular locations within the watershed. Hence the need and request for a distributed modelling tool like ImWEBS or equivalent. In completing the kg reduction estimates, it would be prudent for modellers to compare their results against other similar work for validation/confirmation (e.g. https://cast.chesapeakebay.net/Documentation/BMPs)
Once a kg reduction value is obtained, by combining this information with the cost to implement the BMP (as described in our response to the cost-benefit analysis question), a monetary value of the cost/savings associated with implementing this BMP can be reached.
3. In the document provided in the webpage, there is a mention of "current GLASI models."
a) What type of models are they? Which modelling framework was used for each of them (e.g. SWAT, HSPF, GWLF)?
The models are watershed scale, although particular effort was made to utilize as much field- scale information as possible in preparing these models in an effort to try and capture All watersheds were modelled using the SWAT framework.
b) Will the selected ONFARM modeller have access to the models in order to estimate the BMP efficiencies?
The GLASI models themselves will not be available to the ONFARM modeler, however, we are able to provide sample modelling reports to help inform updating the models.