How can I learn about good stewardship of my farm's assets? Is there any funding available for stewardship projects?
If you own a farm, it is important for you to act as a steward of its natural resources - such as soil fertility, wetlands, streams, ponds and woodlots - for agriculture as well as habitat. In doing so, you are protecting your own assets.
Here are a few common issues that farm owners should educate themselves about. You can click on them for further information, and then read below about organizations that will help you to find out about these and many more topics and may provide funding for stewardship projects.
Wells Do you know how many wells you have? Are they contaminated or safe for drinking? Do they require work to bring them up to current standards?
Fuel tanks Are there any buried tanks to be removed? Are aboveground tanks up to standard?
Nutrient management practices Are you aware of the need to protect ponds and waterways from nutrient/pathogen contamination from livestock and fertilizers applied to crops? One of the best ways to find out more about nutrient management is to attend an Environmental Farm Plan Workshop
Soil management If crops or hay are being removed from your land, are any nutrients being replenished? Are sound agricultural principles of rotation in place?
Invasive Species Are you able to identify invasive species that may do damage on your property?
Endangered or rare species Do you have any species on your land that should be protected?
There are a number of organizations in the community that can help you to identify and address stewardship issues. Here are a few to get you started, but be sure to ask around for organizations that are specific to your county or town.
Visit Ontario Stewardship to find your local Stewardship Council. You can contact them directly for information on local programs.
On the website you will also find valuable information and technical assistance on a wide variety of topics including woodlot management, tree planting, pond construction, and invasive species. Also see the Landowner Resource Centre.
Environmental Farm Plan
Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association delivers free Environmental Farm Plan Workshops across the province. At these workshops, you will learn about risks to your wells, manure management, your soil types and a host of other topics. They are open to any farm or farm business owner. If you have a Farm Business Registration Number, are a beginning farmer or have a farming tenant, you may also be eligible for funding to do projects such as upgrading a well, fencing off a stream and even buying certain kinds of equipment. Find your local county representative at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association website.
Ministry of Natural Resources
The Ministry has developed a Handbook entitled "Guide to Stewardship Planning for Natural Areas". While not restricted to farm stewardship, it provides a framework to help all rural landowners create a stewardship plan for their property.
Ontario Woodlot Association
If you have a woodlot on your property and would like to know how to manage and conserve the resources in it, contact the Ontario Woodlot Association. The Association is a non-profit organization with chapters across the province, and the website is a wealth of information.
Ducks Unlimited Canada
If you have wetlands on your property or would like to create or restore a wetland, contact DUC for information, technical assistance and even financial assistance.