In 2017, Agren® went international when we piloted and licensed SoilCalculator® in two key agricultural subwatersheds within the Grand River Conservation Authority in Ontario, Canada.
The Grand River watershed is the largest river basin in southern Ontario, draining 6,800 square kilometers (2,800 square miles). The watershed is home to almost one million people and includes the cities of Brantford, Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener, and Waterloo. It is also an intensive agricultural area, with farms making up about 70 percent of the watershed. But most importantly, for water quality considerations, the Grand River flows into Lake Erie.
For the past year, Kevin McKague, agricultural engineer with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, has been working with the Grand River Conservation Authority and Agren to adapt SoilCalculator for use in Ontario. The Grand River Conservation Authority’s first goal was to determine the databases required to operate SoilCalculator. The data was available; illustrating the international potential for SoilCalculator. Their second goal was to better understand how and if SoilCalculator might better equip private sector Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) in developing conservation plans for farmers. Historically, Ontario has not had a large governmental workforce solely aimed at assisting landowners with soil and water conservation. Today’s budget realities make that even less feasible, despite the continuing need to protect the province’s soil and water resources.
Kevin envisions some day, the private sector will plan and implement soil and water conservation practices, with government assistance providing the standards and easy-to-use web-based tools to aid them in this work. To me, that’s an interesting model to speed the delivery and implementation of conservation. Kevin understands that ag retailers and seed dealers are a farmer’s most trusted advisors. More than any other sector, ag retailers have the ability to positively impact farmers’ decision making on soil and water conservation issues.
Before engaging the private sector, conservation planning needs to get easier and faster. And that is where Agren’s software comes in. Agren’s software uses NRCS planning guidelines and allows CCA’s to select from a variety of accurate estimates, and provides farmers with more options, so they can make better decisions.