LEADS – Cover Crops
A Farmland Health Check-Up (FHCU) is required to apply for LEADS. A FHCU provides a unique opportunity to work with a CCA or P.Ag at no cost to the producer. It will assess three key fields on your farm to establish both baseline farmland health levels and targets. Click here for a list of CCAs or P.Ags.
Who should apply?
Producers who have not left cover crops undisturbed throughout the winter more than three times in the past five years at the project location. Projects will focus on the use of specific cover crops to protect soil from erosion, enhance soil organic matter and provide undisturbed cover over winter and early spring. Suggested for producers with Farmland Health Check-Ups identifying Farmland Health Challenges in: Water Erosion, Wind Erosion and Organic Matter.
To apply you must have a:
- Verified, 4th Edition Environmental Farm Plan
- Proposed project located within the Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair watersheds
- Have a completed Farmland Health Check-Up, working with a participating certified crop advisor or professional agrologist
Having a verified, 4th Edition Environmental Farm Plan is required to apply for all LEADS Project Categories. If you haven’t completed one, sign up here.
Eligible activities and expenditures:
- Cost of seed for cover crops seeded across an entire field to provide undisturbed cover over winter months (e.g. red clover, oilseed radish, mixtures)
- Cost of seed for cover crops seeded in priority erosion prone areas (e.g. areas prone to water erosion, knolls on sandy soils) to provide undisturbed cover over winter months
- Cost of seed for cover crops that are harvested or grazed, provided a minimum of 6 inches (15 cm) of cover crop growth is left intact over winter
- Costs of planting cover crop incurred by the producer (in-kind) or custom applied (dedicated pass only)
- In-kind contributions
Ineligible activities and expenditures:
- Activities and expenditures as detailed here
- Costs for cover crops where leaving cover crops undisturbed over-winter is a routine practice that has been used by the farm business more than three times over the last five years on the specific field, as documented by the Farmland Health Check-Up and/or other Partnership projects
- Costs associated with mechanical or chemical termination of the cover crop
- Fertilizer and crop protection costs
- Crops that will be harvested or grazed leaving less than 6 inches (15 cm) of cover crop growth over winter
- Cover crops that will be fall or winter tilled
- Seed for alfalfa or winter wheat
- Seed mixes containing invasive plant species (see com/plants/)
- Equipment purchase or modification costs
- Seed produced by the farm business or seed that is purchased from an entity that is not at Arm’s Length from the business applying for funding (see program requirements)
45, 55, 65 per cent, up to a maximum of $20,000
- Certificate of completion for a 4th Edition Environmental Farm Plan
- Copy of your Farmland Health Check-Up
Other useful information:
- Projects in this category are assessed on a field-specific basis. Eligibility for each field will be considered in consultation with the Farmland Health Check-Up
- Applicants may be eligible to receive funding for cover crops up to three times on the same field (separate applications must be submitted for each program year)
- Cost-share funding in this project category is limited to a maximum of up to three eligible applications per farm business funded over the course of the LEADS program (2018-2023).
- An additional 5 per cent in cost-share funding may be available to successful producers who provide information on the Systems Approach section of the application, which demonstrates that the project will be complemented or enhanced by the continued maintenance of two previously implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs). For more information, click here.
Is this project for you? Find out if you meet the program requirements
Any established farm business that is a legal entity and produces agricultural commodities in Ontario, in the Lake Erie and/or the Lake St. Clair watersheds under a valid Farm Business Registration Number (FBRN) or allowable exemption (e.g., religious or cultural) is eligible to apply for cost-share funding under LEADS — provided that the business meets all of the requirements set out herein. You must also have a:
- Farmland Health Check-Up;
- Verified, 4th Edition Environmental Farm Plan; and,
- Valid and up-to-date Premises Identification (PID) Number for the farm property where the project is to take place.
In addition, you are required to be in compliance with all Requirements of the Law and remain in compliance for the duration of the project.
To participate in the LEADS program, project locations must be within the Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair watersheds. To determine if the location where the proposed project will be undertaken is located within the Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair watersheds, please use the interactive map on the OSCIA website.
A farm business may submit up to three (3) applications to LEADS for consideration at one time, in any given program year. A farm business may have up to three approved LEADS cost-share projects underway during any given program year. Applications will continue to be accepted until the funds for that year are fully allocated. Eligible projects must be new to the farm business, unless otherwise indicated in the project category description. A separate application must be submitted for each project.
Projects submitted to LEADS cannot receive funding from any other Partnership program.
The LEADS program supports a merit-based allocation of funding. Eligible projects will be awarded a level of funding that reflects the information provided in the Farmland Health Check-Up:
- Project location (i.e. the field as identified on your Farmland Health Check-Up)
- Farmland Health Challenge addressed by the project
- Rating specific to the project field and identified challenge
Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received until the available funding is fully allocated. Applications are evaluated based only on the information submitted and may not be considered if they are incomplete or do not meet eligibility criteria.
Applications are submitted electronically3. You can apply and submit all required documentation at ontarioprograms.net.
You can also download the Application Form for the Project Category you are applying to and email it with all required documentation to LEADS@ontariosoilcrop.org. Application Forms are available at ontarioprogramguides.net.
3 If you cannot apply online, you may send hard copy applications and all required documentation by post or courier to: OSCIA 1-367 Woodlawn Road W, Guelph, ON, N1H 7K9.
You will be notified by email and/or mail once your application has been reviewed and a decision has been made — approximately 30 business days from the date that your completed application is received by OSCIA. There are three possible Decision Letter outcomes:
- Application is approved – you will receive confirmation of the amount of funding allocated to your project, claim procedures and submission deadlines, a questionnaire that must be completed at the end of your project, as well as information about any specific requirements of the funding.
- Application is conditionally approved – you will be notified about what additional information is required to finalize approval of your project.
- Application is declined – you will receive a brief explanation for the decision.
The start date for your project is the date on the Approval or Conditional Approval Letter issued by OSCIA for each successful project. Projects cannot be started before this date. Eligible costs can only be incurred, invoiced and paid for by the applicant on or after the date noted on your Approval or Conditional Approval Letter.
The completion date for your project will be specified in the Approval Letter issued by OSCIA for the successful project. The project must be complete and eligible costs incurred, invoiced and paid for by the applicant on or before this completion date.
Projects must be completed and operational by the claim deadline for the program year noted in your Approval Letter (January). However, if you are undertaking a project that may require certain conditions to complete (e.g., weather, production cycles, longer timelines, etc.), there is potential to incur project costs across two program years (costs incurred before and after the claim deadline for the current program year). This would be considered a multi-year application. If you have questions about project timelines, claim submission dates or submitting a multi-year application, contact OSCIA at LEADS@ontariosoilcrop.org.
Cost-share levels are determined by the risk rating identified within your completed Farmland Health Check-Up.
Projects being implemented on multiple fields are evaluated on a field-by-field basis. Each field may receive a different level of cost-share based on the field-specific challenge and risk rating identified in your Farmland Health Check-Up.
The maximum cost-share funding available is $20,000 per application, including systems approach funding.
Please note that equipment purchases are limited to the moderate funding level (55%) or base funding level (45%), regardless of the risk rating. This includes all projects under:
- Equipment Modifications to Improve Manure Application
- Tillage and Nutrient Application Equipment Modifications
- Equipment Modifications to Reduce Soil Compaction
New producers are new entrants to the agricultural production industry who:
- File personal income taxes in Ontario
- Have proof of ownership or control of productive agricultural assets to generate farm income
- Have a valid and up-to-date Premises Identification Number for the farm property where the proposed project is to take place
- Have not had more than $7,000 in gross farm income two and three years prior to enrolling in the Partnership
- Have business projects that demonstrate potential annual gross business income of $7,000 of more within three years of applying
New producers are eligible for Crop Nutrient Planning.
If you are a new producer, contact OSCIA at 1-800-265-9751 or LEADS@ontariosoilcrop.org to request a copy of the New Producer Application Form.
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Edit date: March 19, 2021