by Louis Roesch
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
March 22 is World Water Day. Designated by the United Nations, the day is about focusing attention on the importance of water in our daily lives and on a global scale. For the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), water is about more than just a day, it’s an essential part of agriculture, our environment, and our responsibilities.
This year, OFA is celebrating World Water Day by recognizing the collaborative efforts the Ontario agri-food industry is taking to improve water quality in the Great Lakes. From grassroots and member initiatives to industry and government partnerships, there’s a lot work being done to improve our waterways.
Ontario farmers share the responsibility and are part of the solution to improving water quality, including the 4R Nutrient Stewardship to use the right source at the right rate, the right time and the right place. Best Management Practices are guiding principles in farm management and new drainage techniques are being tested to reduce nutrient loss.
OFA is active in several water projects, representing the interests of our farming members and the agri-food sector. The Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI) supports activities in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds and the Lake Huron southeast shores watershed by assisting farmers with a farmland health check-up, farmland health incentive program and priority watershed projects. As one of many agricultural organizations working in partnership through Grow Ontario Together (GOT), OFA is helping reduce phosphorus entering the Great Lakes watershed. OFA also partners with the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative, a group focused on the science of reducing phosphorus and improving water quality through effective agricultural land management and drainage solutions.
Partnerships, collaborations and working groups have been established across the province between the agri-food sector and provincial and federal governments, and OFA is proud to be a part of these. It’s our job to make sure farmers have the tools they need to improve on-farm nutrient management practices including support, incentives and proper regulations.
Farmers have an important role to play in the sustainability, water quality and maintaining the health of our waterways and Great Lakes. World Water Day serves to remind us that we all rely on our natural water resources and share the responsibility to preserve them.