Chatham-Kent – The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority is pleased to announce the launch of the Soil Health Program across the watershed. This Conservation Authority-wide initiative will support farmers interested in improving their soil health by providing financial incentives to offset the cost of planting cover crops and conducting high intensity grid or zone soil sampling. The Soil Health Program will ultimately help reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the Thames River and Lake Erie watershed from agricultural runoff. This new program is funded by the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Great Lakes Protection Initiative.
Planting cover crops helps protect and build soil when it is most susceptible to extreme weather conditions during the fall, winter, and early spring. Conducting high-intensity soil sampling can provide valuable data to inform how cropping practices are implemented to optimize yields and reduce the risk of soil and nutrient loss. These crop management practices can reduce the amount of phosphorus that enters our watercourses. Phosphorus is an essential element required to sustain soil health and grow crops, however when it runs off into watercourses it can contribute to the development of harmful algae blooms. Actions implemented through this program will support the government’s and agricultural industries’ objectives to reduce phosphorus loading within the Thames River and Lake Erie basin.
The program will offer eligible farmers $10.00 – $12.50/acre to plant cover crops in the Lower Thames Valley watershed and a 50% cost-share to conduct grid or zone soil sampling, to a cap of $500.00 per farm business. The LTVCA has currently secured funding to offer the program during the 2021 growing season.
“Sustaining and improving soil health is one of the most important objectives the LTVCA can support to address watershed environmental challenges. Improvements to watershed soil health can help retain nutrients on fields, can sequester carbon, and can increase our landscapes capacity to hold water and reduce downstream flooding. Watershed management is a systems approach and the LTVCA recognizes that soil is the fundamental basis of this system. This new program will support some of the practices farmers have been implementing to protect and regenerate watershed soils”, shares program coordinator Colin Little. Cover crops and soil testing when paired with other LTVCA programs such as planting tree windbreaks and restoring marginal land can result in even greater watershed benefits.
The LTVCA Soil Health Program was designed to be an easy, straight forward process for any farm business interested in adopting practices to retain nutrients and improving soil health. Application and claim forms can be found online at www.ltvca.ca/soilhealth to be submitted via email or completed over the phone. If either application option isn’t right for you, applications can be completed through a site visit with an LTVCA stewardship staff member. A simple application and claims process will mean easier access to incentives to implement these practices.
The LTVCA will begin accepting applications for 2021 soil sampling and cover crop projects February 3, of 2021. All eligible producers will be awarded funds on a first come first serve basis provided they meet the straightforward requirements listed on the LTVCA website. Please speak with the LTVCA Agricultural Program Coordinator, Colin Little, to find out about this program and other incentives that are available to support your agricultural goals.
For more program information or inquiries contact:
Agricultural Program Coordinator
519-354-7310 ext. 231