Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), founded in 1939, is a grassroots, not-for-profit farm organization. The Association is represented by more than 50 local county and district branches within 11 regions of the province, and our dedicated membership has significant representation in all commodity groups.
In addition to research and educational initiatives across the province, we are also recognized and respected as leaders in the delivery of educational workshops and incentive programs to the Ontario farm community. Various knowledge transfer grassroots events are also hosted across Ontario by regional, local and district branches. These events draw farmers together, providing the opportunity for sharing knowledge and new and innovative strategies for soil management and crop production.
With a Vision of ‘Actively seeking, testing and adopting optimal farm production and stewardship practices’, OSCIA local organizations test, investigate and showcase new methods of crop and soil management. Our Mission is to ‘Facilitate responsible economic management of soil, water, air and crops through development and communication of innovative farming practices.’ And our motto, Farmers working with Farmers, illustrates what has been our mandate for decades, to improve soil health and on-farm practices to ensure producers can get the best results out of the resources available. Our dedicated members receive educational materials and resources that support learning, innovation, and networking.
From the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) to commodity specific biosecurity workshops, and Growing your Farm Profits, OSCIA has a deep-rooted history in delivering workshops and webinars to Ontario’s farming community, supporting farmers with the knowledge and information they need to be successful. Workshops play a key role in helping farmers identify strengths and opportunities for improvement in a variety of areas that influence the farm’s profitability, productivity, and sustainability.
In-person workshops are delivered by OSCIA Field Staff, who span all regions of the province. Some workshops and/or workbooks can be completed online. There is no cost to attend workshops delivered by OSCIA.
In addition, local events are hosted across Ontario by, or in partnership with, Regional and Local Soil and Crop Associations to draw farmers together, sharing knowledge strategies for improving soil health and crop production. Our association has significant representation in all commodity groups across the province.
OSCIA delivers several cost-share funding programs that support Ontario farmers in implementing best management and sustainability practices on their farms. While OSCIA has delivered a broad spectrum of programs over many years of program delivery, programs have largely focused on environmental stewardship, economic development, and protection and assurance. Many programs focus on Ontario farmers, but some have supported the broader agricultural supply chain, with programs delivered to businesses that support Ontario’s agricultural sector, such as custom applicators and plant supply chain partners.
These programs have helped to ensure the success of Ontario’s agricultural sector.
OSCIA collaborates with farmers, government, industry, academia and agricultural organizations on applied research initiatives across the province. These initiatives examine best management practices (BMPs) and practical approaches to the agronomic, economic and environmental challenges Ontario farms face.
OSCIA helps grow understanding, innovation and adoption of BMPs by reporting on research outcomes, delivering events to share results, and supporting development of resources and decision-making tools for farmers.
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Wheatland & Conservation Day, held near Baden by Waterloo Soil and Crop Improvement Association. (from the archives of Brad Schneller)
OSCIA signs agreement with OMAFRA to deliver the Land Stewardship Program. This was to be the first of many stewardship programs successfully delivered by the Association.
OSCIA is chosen by the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition to deliver the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan. What started in Ontario, is now a key and very successful environmental educational product across ten Canadian provinces and two territories.
OSCIA moves their provincial office to 1-367 Woodlawn Road West in Guelph. This marks the first time in over 30 years the office is not located in a government building.
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The current dependency on few revenue streams, combined with unpredictable government actions presents significant risk to OSCIA’s ability to perform all competencies. Leverage OSCIA’s current reputation for strong program delivery and seek to expand services that will attract new customers and revenue sources. Attention should be directed towards reinforcing the brand image among grassroots membership throughout the process.
2020 Strategic Plan
The OSCIA Board of Directors approved the 3-year 2020-2023 OSCIA Strategic Plan.
The lead committee groups for each of the four strategic directions outlined above will be meeting regularly to determine next steps, refine tactics and milestones. Tasks will then be provided to OSCIA staff to carry out and each of the priorities and their respective milestones will be reviewed by the Board of Directors on an annual basis.
The OSCIA Board of Directors felt that the first round of Strategic Planning from 2015 was very worthwhile for the organization as a whole and you can find a summary here of the achievements that came from this strategic plan.
2023 PresidentRead More
Steve Sickle farms on the rolling hills at the north end of Brant county. The Sickle family grows corn, soybeans, black beans, winter wheat and hay in a no-till system to keep soil in place and to avoid picking countless stones in the field. Recently planting green has been implemented on the farm to further increase soil health. Having 25 beef cows on the farm also helps utilize covers for feed. The cows are grazed for upwards of 10 months, which allows for cost savings on hay and machinery usage.
Steve has been involved in Brant Federation of Agriculture, Brant Beef Farmers and the Ag advisory council for the county.
Steve has also been involved at the county level of soil and crop for many years and with the Golden Horseshoe Soil and Crop for more than a decade. Steve has been mentored by many soil and crop members over the years to help improve his operation both financially but also environmentally. Steve truly believes the soil is in better shape now than when his father Bill purchased the farm and will be in good shape when and if their children Kara and Ethan take over.
Executive DirectorRead More
After graduating from the University of Guelph, Andy invested the first ten years of his career learning the art and science of agricultural soil and water conservation, first at the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority in London for seven years before taking a similar position with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs working out of the Oxford County office in Woodstock. His career path shifted over to OSCIA in 1990 where he has devoted many years since working alongside partners on environmental program design, delivery, and performance measure. In 2014 he moved into his current role as Executive Director with Soil & Crop.
1st Vice-PresidentRead More
Phil is a cash crop farmer with his father west of St. Thomas in Elgin county. In 2015 the family began transitioning their farm to organic, and now operates a fully certified operation growing corn, soybeans, dry edible beans, and various winter cereals. While challenging, farming organically has pushed the family into adopting innovative new technology such as camera guided equipment, precision implements, and even using electricity for weed control. Phil also runs a small organic elevator providing custom services to other organic farmers. Phil and his wife Rachel have three children aged 4, 8 and 9 who keep them busy with soccer practice, piano lessons, and the occasional trip to the emergency room.
Phil has been a director in his local soil and crop for the past decade and has Elgin Soil and Crop Improvement Association to thank not only for creating a culture of continuous improvement in Elgin County, but also for meaningful friendships around the shared goal of improving the health of our soil and water.
2nd Vice-PresidentRead More
Eleanor Renaud owns and operates a 1,000-acre fifth generation farm in Leeds County. It was a dairy farm and now she runs a cow/calf operation and grows corn, beans, barley, oats and hay.
Eleanor has been part of Leeds County Soil and Crop for the last 10 years. She has also been part of the Leeds County Federation of Agriculture Board of Directors since 1988, serving in a number of positions from board member to President. She currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer.
Eleanor served as a councilor for Elizabethtown-Kitley Township for 24 years and also served on the boards of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario where she had input into the municipal budgets for 19 years.
Eleanor served on the OFA Board representing Leeds County for many years until 2008, and then served as the Zone director for Leeds, Grenville, Frontenac and Dundas Counties from 2008 – 2017.
Eleanor is proud to now sit on the executive of OSCIA as third vice. As a member of the OSCIA board she represents OSCIA to Farm and Food Care. She also sits on a National Species at Risk committee again representing OSCIA. This committee is very educational from the point that not all Provinces have the same programs as we have in Ontario to protect natural lands as well as agricultural lands. She does not see the same types of BMPs. They could all benefit from an OSCIA type of organization in each province.
3rd Vice-PresidentRead More
Andy van Niekerk, P.Ag, CCA-ON
Andy’s “farmer-first” attitude in all his dealings and a never-ending curiosity to learn new things gives Andy the edge on trying new things and products.
Andy holds a Bachelor of Science (Agr) from the University of Guelph in 1980 and has been a Professional Agrologist (P.Ag.) since 1990 and a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA-ON) since 1999; most recently passing his 4R Stewardship requirements in 2016.
Andy is also a long time director on the board of the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario, serving as their research committee chairperson. Serving also on the OSCIA board as Provincial Director for the Georgian Central Region since 2019.
Andy lives and farms with his family in Simcoe County, where he operates his agronomy consulting business from his farm.
Past PresidentRead More
Warren is a cash crop farmer from Morrisburg in Eastern Ontario. A long-time member of the Dundas SCIA, Warren has participated as a county and regional director for nearly as long as he has been a member.
Warren farms with his wife Christine and his parents, growing corn, soybeans, winter wheat and edible beans. The farm has spent the last decade implementing soil conservation strategies into the operation as it transitions from conventional tillage to no-till soybeans. These changes have been well rooted in the mission of the OSCIA and has been the main motivation of participating on the provincial board.
Membership across more than 50 county and district associations make up Ontario Soil & Crop. The not-for-profit organization is centered in Guelph and is governed by a Board of Directors representing eleven regions across Ontario. OSCIA is farmers actively seeking, testing, and adopting optimal farm production and stewardship practices.
Anyone interested in the production and improvement of soils and field crops in Ontario is eligible for membership in a local association.
Our diverse membership has a significant presence in all agricultural areas of the province and across all major sectors.
Each association is clustered into one of eleven regions that encompass all agricultural areas of the province. The regions offer a hub to facilitate communications amongst the local associations and the provincial organization.
The provincial Board of Directors is comprised of one elected Regional Director from each region, plus the President and Past President (13 in total) and have general charge of the affairs of the Association.
The Executive Committee is comprised of the President, Past-President and three Vice-Presidents (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and is responsible to act on powers delegated by the Board.
There are 24 full-time employees representing a broad array of roles and responsibilities working from the provincial office in Guelph, 15 part-time employees engaged in field delivery of programs and located strategically across the province, and there are 11 service providers in the role of Regional Communication Coordinators (one per region).
Explore cost-share funding opportunities offered through OSCIA.
Learn more about exclusive membership benefits offered to OSCIA members.
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Check out your region’s landing page to stay up to date with what is happening in your area!
Explore the complimentary workshop and webinar opportunities OSCIA facilitates for producers across the province.
Learn more about OSCIA events across the province that bring people together to demonstrate new technologies and share knowledge on innovations and management strategies.
Learn more about ongoing and past research.
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