The Ontario Cover Crop Working Group wants to know about the successes and challenges of farmers growing cover crops
By Jackie Clark
The Ontario Cover Crop Working Group is looking to collect feedback from farmers about cover crops.
The group hopes to get insights from farmers who have found success with cover crops, those who have found struggle growing them, and producers who haven’t yet tried to grow them, Marty Vermey, senior agronomist for Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), told Farms.com.
GFO is one of the leading partners in the collaboration of organizations supporting the Ontario Cover Crop Working Group.
“Everybody realizes that cover crops will be a critical component of Ontario agriculture,” Vermey explained. The groups are hoping to gather information to inform communication, research, policy and programming around cover crops.
Through feedback, the working group is “finding out what farmers think of cover crops, what’s working for them and what’s not working for them,” he explained. “What’s holding them back, what more information, what more do they need to make cover crops successful on their farm?”
The survey does not involve “collecting any personal information, really we’re collecting their thoughts,” he added.
Their target is any farmer in Ontario, regardless of experience with cover crops.
“This survey is more than people who are growing cover crops, it’s for people that aren’t or people that have in the past and aren’t anymore,” Vermey explained. “We want to find out why, what happened, what were the struggles they had.”
With the feedback, the working group aims to “build extension material, direct the research in the right areas, and help provide policy and programing that’s better for farmers, to help them (achieve) their goals,” he said.
The organizations also hope to highlight successes and promote mentorship.
“That’s really what I think is going to be successful in Ontario, is farmers talking to other farmers about cover crops,” Vermey said.
The survey will be open for the months of February and March. Farmers can click here to participate.
“All the organizations are promoting it,” Vermey said. Participation is already promising, but “we hope to get more and more people involved.”
Researchers at the University of Manitoba conducted similar surveys in western Canada. A small group from the Ontario Cover Crop Working Group collaborated with those researchers to adapt the structure to the Canadian context, Vermey explained.
Organizations involved include Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario, Conservation Ontario, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Ontario Agri-Business Association, Ontario Soil Network, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, and the University of Guelph – Ridgetown Campus.
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