LEADS – Windbreaks and Wind Strips
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 with fields where soils are at risk of wind erosion and who do not currently have permanent plantings of windbreaks or wind strips, and producers rejuvenating existing windbreaks and perennial wind strips to improve function.
- Projects will focus on planting and maintenance of permanent tree windbreaks or vegetated wind strips, either perennial or seasonal. Suggested for producers with Farmland Health Check-Ups identifying Farmland Health Challenges in: Wind Erosion, Phosphorus 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
- Completed Farmland Health Check-Up, working with a participating certified crop advisor or professional agrologist
- Site sketch (hand-drawn or computer generated) or AgMaps output showing the project location
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:
- Site preparation
- Purchase and planting of native or non-invasive introduced species of trees and shrubs (seeds, seedlings or plugs) that offer high value as a windbreak species
- Tree species and planting techniques that adhere to practices that would typically be advocated by a professional forester
- Weed control system (including mechanical and chemical termination)
- Mulch (including wood/organic mulches and plastic mulches)
- Maintenance costs, associated with renovating existing tree plantings to enhance windbreak function
- Wind strips
- Seed costs for perennial or seasonal vegetative wind strips that offer high value as a wind strip species
- In-kind contributions
Ineligible activities and expenditures:
- Activities and expenditures as detailed here
- Trees, shrubs or other plantings for landscaping or around homesteads
- Vines, ornamentals and other species unlikely to offer value as a windbreak or wind strip species.
- Establishment of trees, shrubs or other plantings that are intended for harvest for economic benefit within 15 years
- Planting of invasive plant species (see com/plants/)
- Payments for land taken out of production
- Total costs for stock and planting in excess of $50 per tree
- Site preparation costs that exceed 10-times the cost of planting/seeding the windbreak and/or wind strip
50, 60 75 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
- Site sketch (hand-drawn or computer-generated) or AgMaps output showing the project location
Other useful information:
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
1. Am I eligible?
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.
2. How often can I apply?
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. 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. Effective for applications submitted after April 1, 2021, a single farm business may receive approval for new projects up to a maximum of $100,000 in total cost-share funding for the duration of the LEADS program (2018-2023).
Projects submitted to LEADS cannot receive funding from any other Partnership program.
3. How will my application be assessed?
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
All completed applications received in a given Application Intake are evaluated after the Intake closes. Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received. Applications are evaluated based only on the information submitted and may not be considered if they are incomplete or do not meet eligibility criteria.
4. How do I submit my application?
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.
5. How will I be notified of cost-share funding decisions?
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 a given Application Intake closes. 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.
6. When do projects start and finish?
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.
All projects must be complete, operational, and a claim submitted to OSCIA by September 30, 2022. If you have questions about project timelines, claim submission dates or submitting a multi-year application, contact OSCIA at LEADS@ontariosoilcrop.org.
7. What funding levels are available?
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 up to $20,000 per application, including systems approach funding, but is defined within each project category description.
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
8. Opportunities for New Producers
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: December 6, 2021