Cultivation/Production, North America, Research, Smart Farming, Studies/Reports, Sustainability

Seeds of collaboration: The triumphs of Living Lab – Atlantic in sustainable agriculture across Canada’s Prince Edward Island

Before a spreader even hit the field, the seeds of Living Lab – Atlantic were planted in meeting rooms across Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) back in 2018, almost a year before the living lab officially launched. Farmers, scientists and industry partners began discussing a new collaborative approach to agricultural innovation.

One where farmers would be involved every step of the way. Farming practices to preserve soil health and water quality would be co-developed by farmers and scientists, and tested on farms in real growing conditions.

Fast-forward to April 2023, with Living Lab – Atlantic now finished, participants are reflecting on the project, its approach, and its successes for farmers and researchers. More than 13 activities studying beneficial management practices were completed over the last four years, including cover crops, crop rotations, irrigation scheduling, enhanced efficiency fertilizers, wetlands and vegetated drain ditches, and more.

The results were not only positive for developing practices to combat climate change, but they also emphasized the collaboration between farmers, scientists, and other organizations.

Living Lab – Atlantic led the way as the first of 13 living labs in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) nationwide network. Other living labs have been learning from its challenges and successes as they build their own collaborations across the country.

“The last four years have been very rewarding. It’s helped us form a large research network that’s worked closely with local producers. To have producers involved right from the beginning, has helped speed up adoption of these practices,” says Scott Anderson, Living Lab – Atlantic Site Coordinator, AAFC.

Some of the research successes included:

“Living Lab was an opportunity to measure what we have already been doing and explore different management practices. We took land that was too wet and constructed a wetland habitat. All partners in that project were surprised and happy with the results,” says Becky Townshend, participating farmer.

A huge thank you goes to more than 20 PEI farmers involved in Living Lab – Atlantic, along with AAFC, the East Prince Agri-Environment Association, Souris Wildlife, the Kensington North Watersheds Association, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the PEI Department of Agriculture and Land, the PEI Potato Board, Ducks Unlimited, University PEI, University New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, St. Francis Xavier University, PEI Watershed Alliance and Genesis Crop Systems.

The results of Living Lab – Atlantic show the power of having a network working together towards a common goal like tackling environmental issues. Participating farmer, Vernon Campbell explains that “the living lab has had a positive effect on my farm and I’m certain it’s had a positive effect on the broader agriculture community on PEI.”

Learn more about Living Lab – Atlantic and AAFC’s new Agricultural Climate Solutions – Living Labs program.

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
Photo: An on-farm research field covered in full season cover crops.

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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