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Assiniboine receives $1.7M from Weston Family Foundation for education and outreach to build healthier soil ecosystems

The Weston Family Soil Health Initiative grants Assiniboine $1,680,827 for a five-year project
The Weston Family Soil Health Initiative grants Assiniboine $1,680,827 for a five-year project

The Weston Family Soil Health Initiative, which seeks to expand the adoption of ecologically based beneficial management practices (BMPs) that increase soil organic matter to improve biodiversity and resiliency on agricultural lands across Canada, has granted Assiniboine Community College $1,680,827 for a five-year project to enhance soil ecosystems in Western Canadian agriculture.

The project, which is also supported by Farm Management Canada, the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association, and the Manitoba Association of Watersheds, will use education and outreach to develop a Net Positive Network to build healthier soil ecosystems in Western Canada. The project will work with innovative Western Canadian farmers, like David Rourke of Rourke Farms, to demonstrate ways to improve biodiversity and tackle climate change by adopting practices that lead to improved soil health.

“Soil is foundational to long-term viable agriculture and food production, and healthy soil can help mitigate climate change. This project will bring together like-minded producers to implement practices that will shape the way we farm and produce food,” said Tim Hore, Dean, Russ Edwards School of Agriculture and Environment. “We thank the Weston Family Foundation for making this project possible. Together we can engage with producers to develop communities of practice that promote regional and economically viable BMPs through farmer extension and post-secondary education.”

By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 10 billion people and global food demand is predicted to increase by 56%. Assiniboine's project will dig into the practical and pragmatic ways that producers have improved upon and continue to advance soil health and climate conscious practices, and will accelerate the development and implementation of those practices to ensure a sustainable future.

“It is clear, through the high-quality applications we received, that soil health is of growing importance in the agriculture sector and that there are scientifically proven yet underutilized approaches to increasing soil organic matter on Canada’s farmlands,” says Emma Adamo, Chair, Weston Family Foundation. “Our Foundation is committed to supporting landscape-level efforts to find solutions to our environmental challenges and, ultimately, improve the well-being of Canadians.”

“Farmers continue to make progress in preserving and nurturing soil health and yet still have many uniquely regional, technical and economic obstacles to overcome,” said Brent VanKoughnet, project lead. “This project will support and elevate the ingenuity of farmers to accelerate the development and adoption of increasingly more targeted and effective beneficial management practices.”

This project aligns with Assiniboine’s agriculture and environment applied research strategy by responding to sector challenges and industry needs through partner-driven collaboration.