On December 17, 2019, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) hosted a day-long workshop to bring together farmers, farm input suppliers, technology developers, government, and academia to discuss how to best make use of the existing and emerging agri-environmental decision-support tools (DSTs) for Ontario. The workshop was held in Guelph at the University of Guelph’s Arboretum Conference Centre with 38 attendees from 17 different affiliations (Appendix B).
The workshop was a follow-up to a 2018 Review of Agri-Environmental Tools that established an inventory of agri-environmental tools available to Ontario farmers and a rudimentary assessment of the essential components of those tools. OFA was commissioned by OMAFRA to prepare the 2018 review and stage the workshop in December 2019. Goals of the workshop were to provide a better understanding of specific tools being used by Ontario farmers and a forum in which to discuss ways to improve the uptake and effectiveness of DSTs designed to assist the farm sector. As well, the workshop was used to discuss the feasibility and usefulness of developing an ‘umbrella’ platform to host multiple agri-environmental tools.
This report begins with an introduction to DSTs and an overview of the workshop. Critical issues that were identified through the workshop are then examined with respect to recent academic literature. Finally, prospects for an umbrella platform are discussed and recommendations for pathways forward are presented.