Weston Family Foundation supports Farming Smarter soil health research.
Southern Alberta crop producers will benefit from a generous Weston Family Foundation grant for its Saving Soils Program that aims to enhance the adoption of fall-seeded cropping to improve biomass production and reduce soil erosion within annual cropping systems in southern Alberta.
Farming Smarter's project is part of the $10 million Weston Family Soil Health Initiative, that seeks to expand the adoption of ecologically based beneficial management practices (BMPs) including cover cropping, nutrient management (4R principles) and crop diversification/rotation that increase soil organic matter to improve biodiversity and resiliency on agricultural lands across Canada.
"We're proud to be part of this initiative and grateful for the support of the Weston Family Foundation for the Improving Soils Through Fall-Seeded Cash And Cover Cropping grant. This is needed research in our region," says Ken Coles, Farming Smarter executive director.
The project will use small-plot and on-farm research activities carried out in collaboration with farmers through regional farmer-led agriculture innovation hubs. The hub conducted five community meetings across southern Alberta in Oct. 2021 to set research priorities based on local feedback of needs. Finding ways to mitigate soil erosion ranked high among landowners as a priority.
Project objectives include:
Determination of cover crop management strategies that maximize biomass production and accumulation, including roller crimping of cover crops, and inter-row living mulch production;
Improving the adoption of cover cropping following high-disturbance specialty crops, such as potatoes and sugar beets, to reduce soil erosion; and
Determination of agronomic management strategies that improve over-wintering survival of fall-seeded crops.
Farming Smarter soil scientist Gurbir Dhillion Ph.D. will lead the project over the next 3 years. Recent research suggests 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. The Weston Family Soil Health Initiative helps promote more adaptive and resilient agricultural lands.
"It is clear, through the high-quality applications we received, that soil health is of growing importance in the agriculture sector and that there are scientifically proven yet underutilized approaches to increasing soil organic matter on Canada's farmlands," says Emma Adamo, Chair, Weston Family Foundation. "Our Foundation is committed to supporting landscape-level efforts to find solutions to our environmental challenges and, ultimately, improve the well-being of Canadians."
Building and Inspiring a Culture of Innovation in Western Canadian Agriculture
Farming Smarter exists to drive agriculture innovation at the farm level. We attract a community of passionate innovators and provide agronomic testing, scientific knowledge, and the right connections for them to succeed.
Innovation drives us, not profit. This makes us a trusted source for regional adaptation of profitable and resilient crops, cropping systems and agronomic practices. Farming Smarter instills a culture of innovation and takes a bottom-up approach that is gritty, practical, and achievable. As a flexible and responsive organization, we take chances, break the rules and encourage failure so we can learn. We adapt and excel at innovation development and adoption.â€¯ This is crucial to keep farmers competitive and viable in a complex and dynamic environment.
Innovators can rest easy knowing we scan the world for new and old ideas that may apply locally. When they turn to us, they are confident our information is grounded and relevant. We love agriculture and offer our community informative, safe, and enjoyable experiences. They feel part of a diverse community who enjoy learning, networking, and bouncing ideas off each other.
Innovation is hard and about long-term results. We invite anyone interested in agriculture innovation to work with us and together we can change the way people farm.