NEW INITIATIVE FOR DROUGHT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
a project launched last fall by Farm & Food Care Ontario will focus on water efficiency, conservation and low water strategies for Ontario farmers. The 18-month Water Resource Adaptation Management Initiative (WRAMI) will concentrate its efforts on agricultural water use practices in response to climate change.
“Our overall objective is to increase the knowledge and ability of farmers in Ontario to adapt their water use practices to deal with the growing impacts of climate change,” says Bruce Kelly, Environmental Programs Co-ordinator with Farm & Food Care. “This includes water security issues, low water response and drought preparedness.”
WRAMI will be active in three key areas: water efficiency and productivity research, education activities to showcase results and learnings, and surveys to help identify industry attitudes and knowledge gaps.
Some funds will be available to farm and commodity organizations for studies and demonstrations on water efficiency, conservation and productivity, with the goal of ensuring farmers have more tools at their disposal to prepare themselves for low or no water scenarios.
Application forms for pilot projects and demonstration sites have been posted online in the Environment section of www.farmfoodcare.org.
“In field crops, this could include looking at soil moisture retention, organic matter content, compaction and cover crops, for example,” explains Kelly. “We want to evaluate different water systems and investigate more efficient techniques so we can reduce our water use, and dependency on surface water.”
The research will be complemented by workshops and presentations to showcase research results and the development of commodity-specific water management practices factsheets. As well, Farm & Food Care will be working with industry and government water specialists, as well as growers, to survey current knowledge levels and attitudes towards water and water use, as well as identify any gaps or possible barriers to more efficient water use.
In addition to getting research projects underway, Kelly is also interested in identifying farmers or agri-businesses who have already implemented innovative water technologies.
“We want to talk to growers who are passionate about water use and have techniques or equipment that are promoting water efficiency,” says Kelly. “This entire initiative is very much about technology transfer, demonstration and awareness so we want to give some publicity to people who are already ahead of the curve. There are places in the world that are used to farming with much less water than we are and we can definitely learn from that.”
Any growers interested in learning more about this initiative or sharing their water innovation experiences are asked to contact Bruce Kelly at Farm & Food Care at 519-837-1326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farm & Food Care is leading this project with the support of funding provided by the federal and provincial governments through the AgriFlexibility program. •