Ontario Grain Farmer April/May 2022

terms of actual yield. YEN not only helps participating growers achieve higher yields, but more efficiency. “It's not about pouring fertilizer,” says Vermey. “It's about making the changes in management that help you incrementally increase your yield by judging yourself on the benchmark from the entire group study for that year.” SHIFTING FOCUS FROM PRACTICE-BASED INDICATORS TO OUTCOMES-BASED INDICATORS Another initiative, Field to Market Canada (FMC), is working to streamline sustainability assessment across North American commodity crop production. Motivated by producer groups such as Cereals Canada and Grain Farmers of Ontario, FMC started out by developing the Canadian Field Print Calculator, a tool that allows individual growers to document production practices for evaluation. Users receive a field-by-field performance report on indicators such as land use efficiency, soil erosion risk, energy use, climate impact and soil carbon release. FMC has since expanded its reach and now works closely with organizations within the value chain to deliver sustainable outcomes for Canadian and U.S. agriculture through the use of consistent, proven and outcomes-based data. The idea is to drive continuous improvement in the production of crops, including corn, soybeans and wheat. “Their producers were growing sustainable crops, they were adopting sustainable farming practices, and they really wanted some sort of a tool to showcase that,” explains Harvey Bradford, an agricultural consultant with Serecon, who works on the initiative. There are approximately 200 Ontario growers involved in three sizeable projects that collect data on behalf of FMC retailer and brand members and their project partners, typically grain companies. Each project has its own slightly different sustainability objective. “Some of them are trying to motivate their grower networks to establish different sustainability farming practices,” he says. “With the reports farmers get back, typically each member who's running a project will host an annual grower school where they get the growers together to talk about sustainability.” Although Bradford is not at liberty to divulge specific details, he did say they are all based in southern Ontario and all focus on winter wheat. Perhaps more importantly, though, they focus on outcomesbased indicators rather than practice-based indicators, like the Food Sustainability Index. “The problem with sustainability is it's a very subjective term,” says Bradford, adding that it’s important to develop regionally specific metrics. “Because what might make sense in the Midwest of the United States doesn't make sense in southern Ontario or doesn't make sense in eastern Manitoba,” he says. And while the initiatives do have a place in motivating sustainable change globally, Field to Market Canada’s focus is on regionally specific sustainability programs. “I think it's really valuable going forward,” says Bradford. “It can motivate a lot of a lot of positive change.” l ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER 29 APRIL/MAY 2022 Grain Farmers of Ontario is actively involved in initiatives that aim to improve overall sustainability by evaluating land stewardship practices. As a long-time farmer, Bradley knows stuff happens when he's juggling work sunup to sundown everyday. Good news is, he also understands his insurance coverage thanks to The Commonwell and our local, insurance-savvy brokers. Knowing you're covered and understanding that coverage creates confidence. It's our job to ensure that happens - so no matter what else happens, you come out on the right side every time. Take the surprises out of your farm insurance by visiting thecommonwell.ca/farm to find a Commonwell broker. @#&*! HAPPENS