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Government of Canada launches nine new living labs: collaborative on-farm solutions to combat climate change in agriculture

·8 min read

CALGARY, AB, July 14, 2022 /CNW/ - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced the creation of nine new living labs across Canada. As farmers and Canadians face the brunt of the impacts of climate change, these new living labs will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the climate resiliency of our nation's food systems.

With an investment of $54 million under the Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) – Living Labs program, this first wave of new collaborative projects will take root in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. It also marks the first Indigenous-led living lab by the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

Each living lab will focus on identifying innovative technologies and on-farm management practices that can be adopted by farmers nationwide to tackle climate change. The solutions developed will also help protect biodiversity on farms, improve water and soil quality, and, through the efficient management of resources, strengthen farmers' bottom lines.

Building on the success of the previous Living Laboratories Initiative introduced in 2018, this next generation of living labs uses the same collaborative approach to agricultural innovation. They bring together farmers, scientists and other stakeholders to co-develop, test and monitor new practices and technologies in a real-life context, breaking down barriers between research and practice on the farm. Where the previous initiative tackled a wide range of environmental issues, the new ACS-Living Labs program focuses on reducing greenhouse gases and sequestering carbon.

The aim is to have at least one living lab in each province, and details on the next set of projects will be announced in the coming months.

The way we use and manage the millions of acres of farmland across Canada will play a key role in addressing climate change and feeding the world. By encouraging and supporting collaboration within the sector, the Government of Canada is committed to growing the nation's food systems in a green and sustainable way, boosting our economic recovery, and enhancing our significant contribution to the world's food supply.

Quotes

"For generations, Canadian farmers and researchers have been finding new ways to protect natural resources while making production practices more efficient. By working together, they are creating innovative research-based solutions that can be applied to real-world challenges on the farm. Our efforts are accelerating the sector's ability to respond to climate change, all while working to ensure global food security."
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"The Alberta Conservation Association and Food Water Wellness Foundation are very pleased to receive funding from the ACS – Living Labs program. With this funding we will work directly with farmers, ranchers, researchers and other interested and related organizations to develop and verify agricultural best management practices that improve soil and increase soil carbon sequestration." 
- Todd Zimmerling, President, Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) on behalf of ACA and the Food Water Wellness Foundation

"Alberta Beef Producers is extremely pleased to be involved with this collaborative, multi-sectoral Agricultural Climate Solutions project, as it will benefit Alberta's beef, forage and cropping sectors. We recognize the importance of our continual efforts to improve carbon sequestration, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate impacts of climate change, while ensuring farms remain competitive, profitable and sustainable for future generations."
-  Dr. Melanie Wowk, Chair, Alberta Beef Producers

Quick Facts

  • All of today's announced projects and final funding are subject to the negotiation of contribution agreements with the lead recipients.

  • Canada introduced the living labs concept to G20 Agriculture Ministers in 2018, who welcomed it as a novel way to accelerate the development of sustainable agricultural practices and technologies around the world.

  • Announced in 2021, Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) – Living Labs is a $185-million, 10-year program that is helping to develop and implement farming practices such as nutrient management, shelterbelts and cover crops to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases.

  • One of the new living labs announced today is the first Indigenous-led hub by the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, the Bridge to Land Water Sky project. This project will see producers and First Nations work towards a common goal of improving the environment while committing to the protection of Indigenous values, treaties, communities, lands and resources.

  • The nine new living labs announced today follow in the footsteps of the original Living Laboratories Initiative, the previous network of living labs introduced in PEI, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario between 2019 and 2021. These living labs focused on overall environmental issues and have since received international acclaim and served as a model for other countries around the world.

  • This announcement is also part of the Emissions Reduction Plan launched in March 2022, with the Government of Canada committing over $1 billion in new funding to accelerate the agricultural sector's progress on reducing emissions.

Additional Links

Accelerating the adoption of climate-smart best practices in agriculture
Living Laboratories Initiative - agriculture.canada.ca

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BACKGROUNDER

New Agricultural Climate Solutions – Living Labs, Partners and Projects

The Government of Canada announced nine new living labs in six provinces under the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Agricultural Climate Solutions – Living Labs program. The living labs are a collaborative approach to agricultural innovation, bringing together farmers, scientists and other stakeholders to co-develop and test new practices and technologies in a real-life context, so they can be adopted more quickly by Canadian farmers.

The new projects explored at each living lab will focus on carbon sequestration and mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the development and testing of beneficial management practices (BMPs), which could then be widely adopted across the region and country. Additional living labs will be announced in the coming year.

The new living labs include:

Recipient Organization

AAFC Funding

Location(s)

Project Focus

Alberta Beef Producers

$8.5M

Alberta

This living lab will explore the use of beef, forage and cropping systems to improve soil carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will lead to the development of BMPs in six key areas including crop rotations and cropping systems, land use changes, grazing management, livestock feeding, nutrient management, and increasing carbon on the whole farm.

 

Alberta Conservation Association (ACA)

$7.7M

Alberta

A collaborative effort between the ACA and Food Water Wellness Foundation, this living lab will look to improve soil health, reduce costs of production, and sequester carbon in the soil using regenerative agriculture. The living lab will explore BMPs in cover cropping, intercropping, relay cropping, adaptive multi-paddock grazing, the use of perennials and animals in cropping systems, as well as feeding strategies to reduce methane production. The projects undertaken here will also amplify and support traditional ecological knowledge and efforts of First Nations in tackling agricultural climate solutions. 

 

Peace Region Forage Seed Association

$6M

Northern Alberta and British Columbia

This living lab focuses on carbon sequestration, GHG mitigation and enhancing agroecosystem services in the Peace Region that straddles British Columbia and Alberta. The living lab will look at farms as a whole, including land management, economics and the social aspects of applying new BMPs.

 

B.C. Investment Agriculture Foundation (IAF)

$6M

British Columbia (BC)

Co-led by IAF and BC Agriculture Council, this living lab aims to explore new, cutting-edge BMPs in six general areas to help farmers fight climate change. These include crop rotations and cropping systems, land use changes, grazing management, livestock feeding, nutrient management, and increasing carbon on the whole farm.

 

Mistawasis Nêhiyawak

$4.8M

Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan

The Indigenous-led, Bridge to Land Water Sky project will see producers and First Nations work towards a common goal of improving the surrounding environment while committing to the protection of Indigenous values, treaties, communities, lands and resources. BMPs explored here will include crop diversification and cover, 4R nitrogen stewardship, pesticide management, and landscape diversification.

 

South of the Divide Conservation Action Program

$8M

Prairie eco-zone of Southern Saskatchewan

This living lab will focus on developing agricultural climate solutions for the Prairie ecoregions. Four key areas include avoiding land use conversion; adaptive grazing management; restoring and enhancing perennial plant communities; and livestock grazing of diverse annual cover crops.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture

$3.8M

Newfoundland and Labrador

This living lab will focus on cropping, fertilization, and soil conditioning strategies for combatting climate change on farms across the province. BMPs explored here will include diversifying forage and vegetable rotations using cover cropping, optimizing fertilizer rates, and adding composts and biochar to sandy soils.

 

Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick

$4.5M

New Brunswick

This living lab will look at the feasibility of adopting practices to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on farms. BMPs explored here include systems for advanced cropping, enhanced forage management, high performance pasture management, efficient nitrogen management, as well as landscape use.

 

Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture

$4.5M

Nova Scotia

Focusing on four BMPs important to this region, this living lab will explore the use of cover cropping in annual and perennial systems, establishing riparian zones and shelterbelts, and land swapping.

 

SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2022/14/c7411.html