Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The impact of human activities on the environment is becoming an important issue for agriculture sector stakeholders in Canada and many other countries. The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Living Laboratories Initiative was developed following international scientific meetings as part of G20. The agriculture sector actors and the Department’s scientists are collaborating on this initiative, aiming to co-create innovative agricultural practices to improve the productivity and environmental performance of farms and to meet the challenges related to climate change.
In a living laboratory, the work approach is based on close and direct collaboration between farmers and scientists, supported by the expertise of other partners in the local community. These close links between science and the reality of producers and their communities will promote the rapid adoption of good agricultural practices and technologies that are beneficial to the soil, water, air and biodiversity in agricultural areas or as climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Three living laboratories are now active in different regions in Canada, including one in Quebec. A fourth will be added this year.
A living laboratory in Quebec
Living Lab - Quebec recently started its activities in the region of Lac Saint-Pierre. This fluvial lake located in the heart of the St. Lawrence, between Sorel-Tracy and Trois-Rivières, receives water from an immense watershed, 14% of which is located in Quebec. The participating farms located outside of Lac Saint-Pierre’s flood zone are in three sub-watersheds that flow into the lake, namely those of Rivière du Bois-Blanc and Rivière Pot au Beurre, and the one called the South Shore of Lac Saint-Pierre watershed, which includes a group of small tributaries flowing directly into Baie du Febvre. These regions are mainly characterized by corn and soybean production, but also include producers of milk, pork and poultry.
The Union des producteurs agricoles du Québec plays a leadership role in the regional consortium of eight partners involved in this living laboratory, including the Waban-Aki Indigenous Nation. They are supported by an entire network of scientists from the federal government. All the collaborators pool their expertise so that the farmers and the scientists, who will analyze the trials and the data collected on the farms, can develop innovative, profitable and environmentally beneficial technologies and agricultural practices.
Nearly 50 farmers have already taken part in the initial activities of this living laboratory and in discussions with researchers. During their first meetings, they agreed on the priorities to be tested:
- developing watercourses to minimize the impact of rapid rises in water level
- developing better year-round soil cover practices, using nutrients reasonably, and better managing soil compaction problems to reduce erosion and improve the health of the soil, air and water
- developing riparian buffers to minimize bank erosion, protect the integrity of watercourses, create biodiversity reservoirs and generate economic activity on farms and for the community
- improving the feeding of farm animals and the management of solid and liquid manures in order to reduce environmental impacts
Ultimately, the scientists and producers and their communities will co-create applicable solutions to improve the environmental performance of farms and watersheds and help improve the health of Lac Saint-Pierre.
Visit the Living Lab - Quebec page to learn more about the collaborators and the activities implemented on farms.
Across the country, the accumulation and sharing of beneficial practices and technological advances applied on participating farms will provide a real boost to sustainable agricultural production. These valuable tools are developed with and for Canadian farmers and will prepare them to respond to the new realities brought about by climate change, improve their productivity and make a significant difference in the health of Canada’s agricultural ecosystems.
- In a living laboratory, the working approach is based on close and direct collaboration between farmers and scientists, supported by the expertise of other partners in the local community.
- About 50 farmers have already taken part in the initial activities of the Living Lab - Quebec, which recently began its activities in the region of Lac Saint-Pierre in Mauricie, Quebec.
- The collaborators combine their expertise to support farmers and scientists in their efforts to develop agricultural technologies and practices that are innovative, profitable, environmentally beneficial, and able to meet the challenges of climate change.