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Ontario gets new Living Lab project

July 26, 2023  By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

On July 20, while attending the Ag Innovation Spotlight event hosted by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) at the Grand River Agricultural Society, Tim Louis, MP for Kitchener-Conestoga, announced the creation of a new living lab in Ontario on behalf of Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food. Led by OSCIA, this living lab project represents an investment of up to $9.2 million over five years from the federal government under the Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS): Living Labs program.

“The living lab will create bridges between academia, industry, and government with a focus on improving innovation,” said Steve Sickle, OSCIA president. “Working collaboratively will increase learning and information exchange with the stakeholders from various agricultural organizations, producers, and experts.

“Working together they can come up with practical solutions to mitigate climate change. This integrated approach to agricultural systems that includes cropland, livestock, and broader farm landscapes is crucial if we are to make progress in addressing the climate change challenge.”

This living lab aims to accelerate the sector’s response to climate change by bringing together producers and scientists, among others, to co-develop, test and evaluate on-farm beneficial management practices (BMPs). These BMPs, which support livestock and cropping systems, nitrogen use, manure storage, landscape management, and grazing management, will help store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on Ontario farms. In collaboration with partner organizations within the living lab, the OSCIA will also encourage knowledge transfer and exchange between local producers, producer associations, federal and provincial researchers, Indigenous groups, and other sector stakeholders.

Building on the success of the Living Laboratories Initiative that ran in P.E.I., ManitobaQuebec, and Ontario from 2019 until this March, the ACS: Living Labs program seeks to break down barriers between research and application by co-developing and testing new ideas in real-world conditions. This Canadian model has received international acclaim and inspired similar initiatives in other countries around the world.

New living labs in two more provinces will be announced in the coming weeks. They will add to the two projects already announced in 2023 and the nine living labs announced in 2022. This will mean a total of 14 living labs under the ACS: Living Labs program, ensuring that there will be at least one living lab in every Canadian province.

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