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Soil and Crop Sustainability Fund

The Soil and Crop Sustainability Fund has two components. The first supports expanded research on soil health through the OSCIA/OAC Soil Health Graduate Scholarship in soil management; and the second is an Internal Fund that provides financial support to selected applied research and knowledge transfer projects.

Soil Health Graduate Scholarship

A ‘Soil Health Graduate Scholarship’ of $10,000 per year is available to graduate students focused on soil health or soil quality research. Recipient selection is completed internally by the University of Guelph. OSCIA will be involved in collaboration and communication of research where possible.

The Soil Health Graduate Scholarship was established by OSCIA in partnership with the University of Guelph and through the generous contributions of OSCIA Founding Partners to the Sustainability Fund.

The scholarship was launched in 2015 and will be available until at least 2024.

2023 Recipient: Connor Goodwin

Connor is currently working on a project is in its third year of a 3-year cover crop project in cooperation with OMAFRA and Grain Farmers of Ontario. They are looking at the corn-soy-winter wheat rotation in Ontario and trying to establish some best management practices for including a cover crop following the winter wheat harvest and leading into corn.

The main objective is to improve the short-term cost associated with cover crop adoption so that farmers can consistently incorporate it into their rotation and reap the long-term benefits of using cover crops.

To facilitate this, they are looking at two primary methods of short-term cost savings. First, looking at whether those cool season cover crops could be doubled as aboveground forage, to help offset planting costs. Secondly, trying to simultaneously determine which species, or combination of species provides the most cost-savings in the form of an N credit during the next season’s corn. 

Within the experiment, they are also looking at some management decisions that can be made to help with cover crop and corn yields. For example, conventional wheat spacing vs. twin row spacing, manure treatments on the cover crop vs. no manure, and planting styles for cover crop mixtures (conventional vs. bio-strips).

In the end, a cost analysis will be done on these management decisions with the hopes of starting to develop a framework in which farmers can be better incentivized to regularly use cover crops in their rotation.

Connor wishes to convey his thanks for the support from OSCIA!


2022 Recipient: Zachary Buchanan

Zachary is a Master of Science student in Environmental Sciences who is investigating the combined use of 4R nitrogen management techniques and cover crops and their effect on nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils in an Ontario grain production system. Zachary is working under Dr. Laura Van Eerd, professor of Sustainable Soil Management.

This work is being carried out under the supervision of Dr. Laura Van Eerd who is a specialist in sustainable soil management. The goal of this research is to quantify the release of nitrous oxide from various combinations of 4R and cover crop systems in order to develop management strategies which better utilize nitrogen fertilizers. Minimizing nitrogen losses to the environment and utilizing tools such as cover crops are critical for creating and maintaining sustainable production systems.

2021 Recipient: Samantha Earl-Goulet

Research Topic: Researching the relationship between soil nitrous oxide production and surface flux under freeze-thaw cycles as impacted by winter warming and cover crops.

This work is being completed under the supervision of Claudia Wagner-Riddle to determine how soil nitrous oxide production patterns are altered by environmental and management conditions. The aim of this research is to improve the modelling of nitrous oxide production and emissions during freeze-thaw cycles which will allow for improved greenhouse gas budgeting accuracy.

2020 Recipient: Jacob Coppolino

Research Topic: Jacob’s research looks to address the effect of freeze-thaw cycling on the biogeochemical dynamic of phosphorus in southern Ontario riparian buffer zones.

Image Copyright Kyle Rodriguez 2019

2019 Recipient: Gordon Bell

Research Topic: Water conservation and how different farming practices specifically the crop rotation employed, can affect water dynamics in that particular field.

2018 Recipient: Hannagala Jeewan Kumara

Research Topic: Formation of recalcitrant soil organic matter which is the largest terrestrial carbon pool. Looking specifically at the role of soil microorganisms in forming recalcitrant soil organic matter.  

2017 Recipient: Pedro Ferrari

Research Topic: Measuring nitrous oxide emissions from a corn field in response to adoption of nitrogen fertilization best management practices

Image Copyright Kyle Rodriguez 2019

2016 Recipient: Jordan Graham

Research Topic: Influence of herbaceous biomass crops on soil organic carbon levels in soils across Ontario.

2015 Recipient: Jaclyn Clark

Research Topic: Cover crop planting into standing corn.

OSCIA Internal Fund

The OSCIA Internal Fund will support on-farm applied research for soil health, as well as outreach and communication of results. The Executive Committee receives project proposals and makes decisions on how the funds are utilized.

Interested in donating to the OSCIA Sustainability Fund?

Interested in more information? Visit our website here or download and complete the Pledge Form and forward the completed form to OSCIA. Donations to the Soil Health Graduate Scholarship will be provided with a charitable tax receipt from the University of Guelph.

Contact OSCIA directly to discuss a Gift Agreement, available for donations over $5,000, or a bequest or endowment.

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