Healthy Ecosystems

Weston Family Soil Health Initiative

Soil Health on Agricultural Lands

Program Overview

Loss of biodiversity on agricultural lands is occurring at an unprecedented rate due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss. Research shows that Canada’s agricultural lands offer an immediate and large-scale opportunity to mitigate further biodiversity losses, and by promoting and increasing soil organic matter, we can help support more adaptive and resilient agricultural lands.

Goal: The initiative seeks to expand the adoption of ecologically-based beneficial management practices (BMPs) that increase soil organic matter in order to improve biodiversity and resiliency on agricultural lands across Canada. The LOIs will allow the Foundation to understand the opportunities and comprehensive project ideas that currently exist, in order to build an informed framework for the proposal phase.

The initiative’s goal will be supported by the Foundation’s longer-term strategy which is comprised of catalyzing and shepherding ‘winning approaches’, to ultimately scaling projects with the greatest opportunities for impact. Successful applicants who meet the defined selection criteria within the LOI will be invited to submit full proposals.

Strategy: The initiative aims to increase the number of agricultural producers using BMPs that are scientifically proven to help increase soil organic matter on farmland. Through multi-year investments, the initiative aims to promote a behavioural shift towards the wider acceptance and adoption of the following BMPs:

  • Cover Cropping;
  • Nutrient Management (4R Principles); and
  • Crop Diversification/ Rotation.

Project Eligibility: Our strategy is designed to test which of the following approaches maximize the adoption rate of the desired BMPs in an efficient and scalable manner. Eligible approaches include:

  1. Incentivizing Stewardship: Projects which incentivize producers to adopt one or more of the identified BMPs (e.g. reverse auctions, community-based models).
  2. Outreach/Education and Training: Projects which increase access to, share technical knowledge of, and train producers on the identified BMPs.
  3. Sustainability Certification/Standard: A project which aims to establish a sustainable farmland management certification/standard at scale.

Funding: The timeframe for this ‘spark phase’ will run 3-5 years in length with a total funding envelope of $10M.