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Living Lab launched in Ontario


May 11, 2021
By Fruit and Vegetable

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On May 10, federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an investment of $4.2 million to launch a new Living Lab in the Lake Erie region of Ontario.

Living Lab – Ontario is the latest collaboration hub created under the Living Laboratories Initiative, which brings together farmers, scientists and other partners to develop, test and share innovative agricultural practices and technologies.

“The framework for collaboration established by Living Labs unites partners in protecting our environment, soil, water, and land. It is inspiring to see as it provides tools for farmers and sets the stage for the road ahead, such as the Agricultural Climate Solutions program. We can do more together.”

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Neil Ellis, parliamentary secretary to the federal minister of agriculture and agri-food

The Living Laboratories Initiative is part of a $70 million investment outlined in the 2017 federal budget to further support agricultural discovery science and innovation, with a focus on climate change, soil and water conservation, and biodiversity. This will be the fourth Living Lab launched, following similar collaborations in Atlantic Canada, the eastern Prairies, and Quebec.

“Ontario farmers are leaders in environmentally-smart agriculture and continue to find innovative practices that ensure the long-term health of their lands,” Bibeau said in a press release. “The collaborative research approach will help Ontario farmers develop new sustainable practices that can be used by all farmers across the province and the country.”

Led by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), Living Lab – Ontario collaborators will include farmers, agricultural and conservation organizations, and scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and other federal departments. Their research will focus on reducing the soil and nutrient runoff from agricultural land into Lake Erie, improving water quality, conserving soil health, and increasing biodiversity on agricultural lands in Ontario. They will share their expertise with farmers across Canada to help accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies.

“Living Labs is an opportunity for some of Ontario’s most progressive and innovative farmers to connect and work with Canadian agricultural researchers. AAFC staff will gain valuable knowledge by being introduced to new and innovative soil practices, while farmers will have the opportunity to have their ideas and agricultural practices evaluated to assess their benefits. Living Labs is one tool that can put Canadian agriculture on the right path to soil sustainability, improved water quality, and to potentially aid in combatting climate change.”

Laurent Van Arkel, president of the Ontario Soil Network and Living Lab – Ontario participating farmer