Living Lab – Ontario

The Living Lab – Ontario is a project funded by the Living Laboratories Initiative, launched by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It is located in the Lake Erie basin, in the southwestern region of Ontario. The region experiences specific agri-environmental challenges, for example, Lake Erie is particularly sensitive to the effects of nutrients from agriculture and other human activities. In partnership with local producers, scientists, and other collaborators, Living Lab – Ontario is developing and testing farming practices and technologies that address soil and water quality, watershed management, and biodiversity.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

As part of the initiative, an overarching goal of the Living Lab – Ontario is to evaluate the benefits of incorporating best practices to improve soil health, water quality, biodiversity, and resilience to the impacts of climate change. These themes are also interconnected and reinforce each other. In a changing climate, efforts to improve soil and water quality and to protect biodiversity are beneficial to the resilience of agroecosystems.

Identifying Actions

Led by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, AAFC scientists, other industry partners with local farmers, have established innovative on-farm trials evaluating cover crops and minimum tillage. They also included methods and strategies through monitoring and modelling studies, and remote sensing technology. The objective of these trials was to determine if changes at the farm level could translate to changes in soil health, water quality and resilience to the impacts of climate change at the watershed level.


Like other projects in the Living Laboratories Initiative, the Living Lab – Ontario creates partnerships between farmers, researchers, and a variety of other collaborators, finding solutions to agri-environmental problems in a real context of production. To facilitate the implementation of the new technologies and practices identified through the Living Lab approach, this initiative also seeks to understand the costs, benefits, social factors, and barriers to the adoption by producers.

Next Steps

The upcoming steps include sharing the results and knowledge with farmers across Canada, to further the goal of the Living Laboratories Initiative, which is to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies.