CAP: Environmental Stewardship

Ontario’s agricultural landscape is shifting with changes in market demands, public trust and the expectations of agri-environmental sustainability. Commitments have been made within the draft Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan and Ontario’s Draft Agricultural Soil Heath and Conservation Strategy, and funding is intended to support the sector in achieving results. Priorities include:

Soil Health

Modern agricultural practices are highly productive, but have resulted in degraded soil health. There is an urgent need to improve our understanding and awareness of soil health and how to effectively influence farmers to adopt best management practices. In Ontario, it is estimated that 54 per cent of soil is within an unsustainable erosion risk category and over 80 per cent of cropland has depleted levels of organic matter in the topsoil.

Water Quality

Improving Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair water quality is critical for clean drinking water, recreation, commercial fishing, irrigation and other industries.  Nutrient losses from agricultural sources is contributing to water quality issues in the Great Lakes. Phosphorus has been identified as a significant driver of harmful and nuisance algal blooms, in particular in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. Ontario has made numerous commitments to achieve a reduction in phosphorus loading to Lake Erie (from all sources) including a 40 per cent reduction of Total Phosphorus loading to the Western and Central Basins by 2025. Nutrient losses from agricultural sources includes: applied nutrients, soil erosion, surface runoff, greenhouse nutrient feedwater, and spills.

There are three project categories under the Environmental Stewardship priority area, focused on advancing outcomes under the Partnership.