Launched in 2022, Agricultural Climate Solutions — Living Labs (ACS-LL) is a $185-million program that will allow Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to build and strengthen a nationwide network of living labs over 10 years.
Each living lab brings together farmers, scientists, and other sector stakeholders to co-develop and test innovative technologies and on-farm practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in real-world conditions. The program draws on the same living labs approach to collaborative innovation as the previous Living Laboratories Initiative (2018 to 2023). With farmers at the centre of each living lab, their experiences and knowledge sharing will help accelerate the development and adoption of sustainable, environmentally friendly on-farm practices and technologies to tackle climate change.
Led by sector partners, each living lab will implement projects to:
- Sequester carbon: Like Canada's forests, Canada's millions of acres of farmland have the potential to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Soil-management practices like no-till, cover cropping, and establishing shelterbelts and riparian zones can all help to store carbon to help fight climate change.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Many on-farm practices for sequestering carbon also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Other living lab activities will explore livestock feed, integrated crop-livestock production systems, and precision agriculture.
- Provide other environmental co-benefits: Sustainable on-farm practices not only help store carbon and reduce GHG emissions, they also improve soil and water quality while protecting biodiversity. Conserving these resources can lead to healthier crops and more resilient agroecosystems.
In addition to the economic benefits of adopting those practices on their farms, action now will help farmers reduce risks over the longer term from extreme weather, such as flooding and drought. The ACS-LL program will also contribute to Canada's emissions reduction target by 40 – 45% below 2005 levels, by 2030 and help us reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Meet the Living Labs
Living Lab — British Columbia
- Location: British Columbia
- 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.
- Lead partner: B.C. Investment Agriculture Foundation (IAF)
- Website: BC Living Lab
Living Lab — Peace Region
- Location: 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.
- Lead partner: Peace Region Forage Seed Association
- Website: Peace Region Living Lab
Living Lab — Alberta Agri-Systems
- Location: 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.
- Lead partner: Alberta Beef Producers
- Website: Alberta Agrisystems Living Lab
Living Lab — Regenerative Alberta
- Location: Alberta
- A collaborative effort between the Alberta Conservation Association 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. Key BMPs include 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. Their activities will also amplify and support Indigenous ecological knowledge and efforts in tackling agricultural climate solutions.
- Lead partner: Alberta Conservation Association
- Website: Regenerative Alberta Living Lab
Living Lab — Bridge to Land Water Sky
- Location: Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan
- This Indigenous-led living lab will see Indigenous and non-Indigenous producers working with sector partners 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.
- Lead partner: Mistawasis Nêhiyawak
- Website: Bridge to Land Water Sky Living Lab
Living Lab — Central Prairies
- Location: 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.
- Lead partner: South of the Divide Conservation Action Program
- Website: South of the Divide Conservation Action Program
Living Lab — New Brunswick
- Location: 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.
- Lead partner: Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick
- Website: Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick
Living Lab — Nova Scotia
- Location: 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.
- Lead partner: Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture
- Website: Living Lab — Nova Scotia
Living Lab — Newfoundland and Labrador
- Location: 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.
- Lead partner: Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture
- Website: NL Living Lab
For information on AAFC's first four living labs, check out the Living Laboratories Initiative (2018 to 2023).
Through the ACS-LL program, farmers are working together with researchers and sector partners to develop and test innovative solutions to store carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help combat climate change.