2023-2028 Collaborative Activities Project Summaries

The Collaborative Activities Grant is available to local and regional associations to support communication events such as: Educational Activities, Field Days, Guest Speakers, Bus Tours, In-Field Trials, or Demonstrations of New Equipment or Management Techniques.

2023-2024 Collaborative Activities Grant Project Summaries

Below are some examples of grants that have been completed over the last fiscal year (April 2023 – March 2024)


2023 In-Field Nitrogen Loss Summary

Local/Regional Association: Brant SCIA

Details of Activity:

Brant SCIA led a dosimeter study documenting nitrogen loss in wheat and corn during the 2023 growing season.

During the spring and summer of 2023, Brant Soil & Crop Improvement Association (SCIA) led a trial documenting nitrogen (N) loss through volatilization using the methodology outlined by Marijke Van Andel in her master’s thesis Development of a Simple and Affordable Method of Measuring Ammonia Volatilization from Land Applied Manures. Holly Loucas, the current president of Golden Horseshoe SCIA and a member of Brant SCIA’s Board, spearheaded this pilot project, adapting and tweaking the thesis methodology and testing it within various field conditions with the assistance of fellow Brant SCIA Directors participating in the data collection. The results of this pilot dosimeter trial were surprising to the participants. In all locations there were losses of N due to volatilization. Weather and time of application, as expected, affected the amount of N that was lost. As temperatures increased, N volatility increased. If an inhibitor was applied with the N, the losses were dramatically lower at all locations. The study tested N applied to both winter wheat and corn under real field conditions and different management strategies representing growers across Brant County. Results of this study were presented at an evening BSCIA in-field event and a complete summary presented at the BSCIA AGM in January. The pilot study was a success and highlighted that we need to learn more about how and when we are losing N to volatilization and is a great learning tool to improve cropping practices to keep N losses to a minimum.

Brant SCIA will be undertaking this study during the 2024 season to further document N losses under different field and weather conditions. Several other counties in Ontario have expressed interest in participating in 2024. The study is simple, yet effective in documenting N loss through volatilization.

Important to Note: 115 individuals attended two events. Holly Loucas is the contact if you have additional questions.


AGM Guest Speaker

Dundas SCIA

Details of Activity:

On December 5, 2023, Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association hosted Heather Watson from Farm Management Canada. Heather presented on “Healthy Minds, Healthy Farms: Exploring the Connection between Mental Health and Farm Business Management”. This event was held at Chesterville Legion.

Important to Note: 65 individuals attended the event. Jessica Menkhorst is the contact if you have additional questions.

Bus Trip to Illinois

East Central SCIA

Details of Activity:

August 25 – Drove to Fairoaks Dairy, Indiana. Fair Oaks Farm, Indiana, one of the largest dairy farms in the United States. Dairy Adventure to see the future of dairy farming in the Robotic Dairy, and the Crop Adventure to learn all about modern crop farming practices, and the importance of our soil and the future of farming. Had a tour of their dairy barns, education centre and restaurant. The ultimate agri-tourism.

August 26 – Half Century Farm Progress Show. Amazing displays and demonstrations of  equipment.

August 27 – Tour Indianapolis Motor Speedway & Museum. Most famous race track in the world, and home of the Indy 500, the world’s largest sporting event.

August 28 – Tour F.S. Growmark river barge facility in Havana, Illinois. Here they export 33,000,000 bushels of grain annually. We toured the F.S. Growmark river barge terminal that receives approx.. 300,000 tonnes of fertilizer for distribution across the mid-west. Tour the Old Red Farm Shed, a world famous Internation Harvester Tractor collection. Video is available on YouTube under “Machinery Pete”.

August 29 – We attended the Farm Progress Show, the biggest farm show in the U.S.

August 30 – Headed home. An amazing tour through small town America.

Important to Note: 26 individuals participated in the bus trip. Neil Moore is the contact if you have additional questions.

Virtual Event of Soil and Crop Management Info

Georgian Central SCIA

Details of Activity:

Continuing on the success of Virtual Crop Walks hosted during COVID, the Georgian Region hosted a virtual event with a  speaker that is known to draw a crowd. Dr. Lee Briese was the guest speaker for Georgian Region’s July 27th Soil Health Open Discussion night. Lee Briese is a Doctor of Plant Health, agronomist and soil scientist who works for Centrol Ag consulting in North Dakota, USA. He scouts around 83,000 acres of crop land and helps farmers improve crop health, production and their bottom line with philosophy based around the following five soil health principes: soil armour, minimize soil disturbance, diversity, continuous living roots in the soi, and livestock integration.

The virtual meeting was open to anyone across Ontario, with a  recording available for those unable to tune in live due to wheat harvest and other farming activities. Sadly, only 21 people tuned in for the live event, but the demand for the recording has been strong. Anyone who requested the video, and all Georgian members received the video. It will also be available on YouTube. An article will be in the Ontario Farmer newspaper.

Dr. Briese encouraged participants to “choose their own adventure”, and responded to questions posed by them. As per the article that Emily McKague wrote for the September Innovator, discussions centered around: managing corn residue (cut higher); selecting corn crops (don’t plant a weed or host to significant pests); compaction (don’t work wet soils/cover crops with aggressive root systems can help); beneficial insects (Syrphid flies and Ladybugs are very effective); the impact of fungicides on soil fungi (likely low); whether compost teas could act as a fungicide (likely limited efficacy); nutrients that are released and available from cover crops (this is tough to measure); manipulating carbon to nitrogen rations with cover crops (not a short term fix); and managing straw stubble prior to corn (similar to managing corn stubble). Suffice it to say, Dr. Briese was a hard speaker to stump with a question!

Important to Note: 21 attended the virtual event; the recording has been made widely available. Lorie Smith is the contact if you have additional questions.

Grey SCIA Crop Walk


Details of Activity:

A Crop Walk was held on July 18th in the.Annan area, focusing on soil, and other crops. Three soil pits were dug in advance of the day. Approximately 65 people were in attendance, too many to safely and effectively observe the soil pits in detail. The MSTS trailer was vital in our ability to ensure that everyone could see and hear what the experts were highlighting in the pits. Our experts included Alex Barrie, Jim Warren, Daniel Saurette from OMAFRA, and Deb Campbell from Agronomy Advantage. The first two soil pits were in a corn field (in a corn/bean/wheat rotation). One portion of the field grows crops well, the other does not. The soil profiles combined with SWAT maps and soil test results did provide some information as to why this yield discrepancy was evident. The third soil pit was in an alfalfa field. Attendees learned about soil structure, general soil health, compaction, and much more. Tile drainage was also discussed.

Even though the county soil map showed consistent soil types within the field, the soil pits showed varying soil types (Harkaway silt loam to Wiarton silt loam). The soil pits also demonstrated compaction layers from machinery operating when the field was too wet or cattle compaction from grazing when field conditions weren’t ideal. A soil pit in a 6-year-old alfalfa field showed how the alfalfa roots could penetrate through the soil layers to improve drainage and soil health.

The SWAT maps were consistent with the farmers experience within the field (drainage issues, winter wheat survivability, etc.). The SWAT maps indicated that some areas of the field should be soil sampled. After the soil samples were done where indicated by the SWAT maps, it was determined that some sections of the field would benefit from a variable rate lime application.

ln addition to the soil pits, some field crops were scouted including wheat management with PGR, and Enlist soybeans. The experts that were on hand to scout these fields included: Deb Campbell from Agronomy Advantage; Carrie Davenport from Georgian View Ag Services Ltd., and Henry Buffinga from Corteva. Jake Munroe from OMAFRA delivered an excellent presentation on cover crops, complete with potted samples of various species.

Important to Note: 65 people attended the event. Lorie Smith is the contact for additional information.

Cover Crop Bus Tour

Huron SCIA

Details of Activity:

This tour supported peer-to-peer learning as producers toured three farms where cover crops are being utilized in different ways.  These included using a multi-species mix after wheat harvest, planting rye after late-season corn, and grazing cover crops.  Hosts explained their successes and challenges with these practices.  Participants also learned about cover crops, best management practices, and the innovative drainage project taking place at the Huronview Demonstration Farm in Clinton.  An informative tour of the grain terminal in Goderich also took place.

A post-tour evaluation showed that the majority of participants found the tour stops useful, and they enjoyed continuing the discussions on the bus.  Although the majority of the participants already use cover crops, 25% indicated they were going to try something new after hearing something on the tour.

The tour was promoted to membership via email, various websites, and social media.   

Important to Note: 28 people attended the bus tour. Sharon Devine is the contact for additional information.

OSCIA Summer Tour

Middlesex SCIA

Details of Activity:

Middlesex supported the OSCIA Summer Tour at Phil Oegema’s on August 18 & 19, 2023.

Due to weather, the demo sites could not be visited.  There was discussion with equipment dealers instead.

Then a Panel Discussion was held on managing N with cover crops and N strategies moderated by Greg Stewart and Peter Johnson.

Saturday was a bus tour to the Tirecraft Facility, Ingersoll, Whitecrest Mushroom facility, Hayhoe Hops facility and Agrico Fertilizer facility.

Important to Note: 130 people attended the event. Marian Desjardine is the contact for additional information.

Norfolk Compaction Day

Norfolk and Golden Horseshoe SCIAs

Details of Activity:

The event highlighted to growers that compaction is an issue for lighter soils which is contrary to common opinion. The varied agriculture of Norfolk allowed us to demonstrate both field crop and horticultural equipment travelling over the sensors buried in the light soil.

The three information sessions rotated through provided insight to growers on management of lighter soils. The benefits of cover crops in lighter soil was demonstrated by visually identifying the different root systems and growth patterns of different cover crop species. The soil pit areas highlighted different soil zones of this region and their formation. Knowing the origin of their soils can help growers to know the aspects of management that will need to be monitored closely for these soil types. The tire technology stop highlighted old and new technology in tires and how this can impact compaction on your soil as equipment passes over the ground.

Important to Note: 200 people attended this event. Nancy van Sas is the contact if you have additional questions.

Agri-Tourism Bus Trip

Renfrew SCIA

Details of Activity:

On Wednesday July 19th the RSCIA embarked on a one day bus tour to visit three Agri-Food businesses in the province of Quebec. The tour began with pickups in Cobden, Renfrew and Arnprior, before making it’s first stop at Agri-Fusion in St-Polycarpe,QC. 

Agri-Fusion is a 2650 hectare, 100% organic, farm producing cereals, vegetables and legumes.

The general manager gave attendees a detailed presentation explaining the origins and vision of the farm, as well as the methods used, to plant, manage and harvest crops within the confines of organic certification. In addition, Agri-Fusion also grows crops that must be harvested fresh for the canning market. This requires very specialized co-ordination  between the farm and the purchaser to ensure that quality standards are met.

Tour goers were then invited to explore the farm’s specialized equipment and ask any remaining questions one on one. 

Agri-Fusion is a progressive operation that actively invests in new technology. They are currently developing a proprietary application that will optimize planting and crop management based on historical and current data. All farms are subject to the challenges of nature but Agri-Fusion is especially vulnerable and is hoping to use the app to mitigate risk whenever possible. 

The bus then travelled to Ferme Quinn on Notre-Dame-de-I’Ăźle Perrot, QC

Ferme Quinn is a second generation family farm specializing in pick your own fruits and vegetables. It began as a vacant field in 1982 and has been carefully nurtured into a thriving business that now employees upwards of 50 workers each year while welcoming thousands of visitors 6 days a week.

In addition to the produce fields, there is an animal barn, an ag-based play yard for children and a farm shop.

Ferme Quinn is neither fully organic or fully conventional. Crops are managed using the best means available with an educated focus on supporting the natural environment whenever possible. Sheep are used for weed control between the Christmas trees. Hormone rings are attached to apple trees to stave off moths and avoid pesticides.

While touring the fields of blueberries, strawberries and pumpkins, visitors were invited to view the farms active bee hives. Owner, Phillip Quinn and his son Keith gave an in depth demonstration of hive management, structure and the hives place in a well balanced environment. 

The tour then travelled to the final stop, Sucrerie de la Montagne in Rigaud QC.

Here, the coach was met by a team of horses and wagons and delivered a short distance up the hill to our supper destination. Like Ferme Quinn, the Sucrerie began small and has been intentionally expanded throughout the years to foster a very specific environment. Syrup is still collected in tin pails. There are no lines running through the trees. The buildings are made of log and rough cut lumber with tin roofs to preserve the feeling of a genuine pioneer operation.

The Sucrerie hosts a Sugaring off feast year round. During the sap season they can be accommodate 2000 visitors per weekend. On site overnight cabins and multiple halls with dining areas also make the Sucrerie and ideal location for weddings and family getaways.

Each of the locations visited excel at what they do. They are actively investing in improving their operations evolving to meet the needs of their market. (Provided by Charlotte Reaburn -Bus Trip Participant)

Important to Note: 48 people participated in the bus trip. Brandy MacLeod is the contact if you have additional questions.

Bus Tour 2023

Prescott-Russell SCIA

Details of Activity:

The Russell Soil and Crop brought all members to visit farms in Winchester. First stop was Ingredion, in Cardinai. We also visited Winchester Research Station and Rutters Elevator in Winchester.

Important to Note: 40 people participated in the bus trip. Marc LaflÚche is the contact if you have additional questions.

Crop Tour

Temiskaming Crops Coalition

Details of Activity:

The day began at the Ontario Crops Research Centre – New Liskeard. Guests were shown the trials and research happening at the centre, did a walk through of the new building and had their new equipment out for viewing. A BBQ dinner followed, with plenty of opportunity to network and socialize. Following, there was a twilight bus tour showcasing a variety of crops being grown this year!

Important to Note: 80 people attended the event. Rachel Kehoe is the contact if you have any additional questions.

Ag Innovation Spotlight

Wellington SCIA

Details of Activity:

Several innovations in the agricultural sector were highlighted such as cover crops, reduced tillage, central inflation systems, manure injection systems, soil health indicators, cropping systems, new sprayer technology, tractor innovations, robotic milking systems and uses/benefits of drone imagery.

Important to Note: 79 people attended this event. Linda McFadden is the contact if you have any additional questions.

Guest Speakers at AGM

Wellington SCIA

Details of Activity:

The Wellington County Soil and Crop Improvement Association held it’s annual general meeting on December 1, 2023.

Greg Stewart spoke on “Biologicals: The talk and the Walk”. This was the first time we have had a speaker on this topic. Greg provided thought provoking and interesting information on the use of biologicals. There were a lot of questions for Greg on this topic.

Dr. Laura Van Eerd, Professor of Sustainable Soil Management at the University of Guelph spoke on her soil health assessment project with an emphasis on cover crops and soils related topics.

Dean Shantz spoke on PurYield Controlled Release Fertilizer. He took us on a virtual tour of the plant in St. Thomas and spoke how their product could help farmers increase their bottom line and still focus on environmental sustainability.

Deb Campbell, a local agronomist provided a “neutral” look at All Things Nitrogen with a focus on inhibitors and coated nitrogen.

Our directors discussed the program at our director’s meeting and the following evaluations were observed:

  • Interesting and well put together program
  • very timely topic
  • all of the speakers were well versed in their topics and judging from the number of questions from the group, the speakers and topics were well received.

Important to Note: 50 people attended the event. Linda McFadden is the contact if you have any additional questions.

Verner Crop Info Day

West Nipissing/East Sudbury SCIA

Details of Activity:

The day was spent viewing educational videos about agriculture. We decided on videos talking about different crop production and impacts, climate, DIY projects, fertilizer application and also a little bit of practices and impacts of farming in other countries. We also had some time to discuss these topics.

Important to Note: 34 people attended the event. Matt Roberge is the contact if you have any additional questions.

Guest Speakers at AGM/Educational Meeting


Details of Activity:

David Phillips, environmental climatologist and television personality addressed our annual meeting. His message was that climate changes have presented many challenges to farmers. The conditions today are different than they were decades ago and there is evidence that there are more “surprises” with the weather than in the past. There is also evidence to support that the weather has become more extreme. Although the normal now is to expect the unexpected, David’s message was that just as we have adopted crops that were not traditionally grown in Ontario (such as ginseng, okra and grapes along the north shore of Lake Ontario we can utilize the change in climate to our advantage. There will be more need for food produced by fewer farmers on

less arable land. By acknowledging the change in climate it will be possible for farmers in Ontario and Canada to be quite successful not just by regenerative agricultural practices but through innovation in crop adoption.


Our second speaker at the York Soil and Crop Association annual meeting was Tim May. Tim is a dairy farmer from Wellington County who maintains a Social Media presence as “Farmer Tim’. Tim’s focus was that as the public becomes more urbanized, they are less aware of agricultural practices. As they are very familiar with the Internet, they derive much of their information through this medium. Unfortunately, not all the information available is factual and much is biased and misleading. Further, the increasing urbanization means that many of those who live adjacent to farms are unfamiliar with farming practices. Tim explained how he tries simply to describe his day to day activities on his social media sites. He tries not to enter into arguments with those on the web but rather explains in a balanced way what he does and why. He noted that all of us are “agvocates” whether we like it or not. The public sees what we are doing and are not just curious but are concerned. He quoted that “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair”. Given that, Tim advised that our communications be positive and genuine; we find common ground; and, we think outside the box.

Important to Note: 85 people attended the event. Tom Patterson is the contact if you have additional questions.

Promoting Women in Ag & OSCIA

Ottawa Rideau SCIA

Details of Activity:

On September 14, 2023, the Eastern Ontario Women in Ag Network held their 1st Annual Golf Tournament at Anderson Links golf course in Metcalfe Ontario. The objective of the golf course itself was to promote and connect women in ag and rural areas across eastern Ontario.

For us, the objective was to be there to gain awareness of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association and make connections to increase membership and possibly more volunteers for events we host or are part of.

The tournament had approximately 100 attendees, and of the 100 attendees there were many interested in who OSCIA is, what we do, and how we support grain growers both locally and provincially.

Important to Note:Approximately 100 attended the event. Kelsey Banks is the contact if you have any additional questions.

Funding Statement

This project is funded in part from the Governments of Canada and Ontario under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP), a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

The views expressed in the reports are the views of OSCIA and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province or Canada.

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