Background Information on the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SSCA)
The Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SSCA) was formed in 1987 by a group of producers who saw the need to increase the public’s awareness of soil conservation and to share soil conservation information with others. The SSCA is a non-profit, producer-based organization whose mission is “to promote conservation production systems that improves the land and environment for future generations.” The Association’s motto is “Farming for your Future Environment.” The SSCA currently has approximately 300 active farmer members.
· The SSCA’s Annual Conference brings the latest in soil conservation technology and information together for one of the largest agricultural conferences in Saskatchewan.
· The SSCA publishes the “Prairie Steward” Newsletter twice a year. This newsletter is distributed to SSCA members and includes a combination of technical articles and association news.
· In 2008, SSCA launched the Prairie Soils and Crops e-Journal at www.prairiesoilsandcrops.ca. Working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and University of Saskatchewan researchers, SSCA is bringing unbiased, peer-reviewed information to Prairie producers and agrologists with new articles every year.
Since 1994, the SSCA has been actively promoting the concept of using agriculture soil sinks as part of Canada’s greenhouse gas management strategy. SSCA participated in the National Climate Change Consultation Process sitting as a member of the “Sinks Table.” SSCA took a lead role working with other agricultural organizations, provincial soil conservation groups and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada to actively promote the importance of agricultural soil sinks as an important strategy to address climate change. More recently, the SSCA has been working to develop carbon market mechanisms, like carbon leasing, that provide value to producers without increasing liability.
Within Saskatchewan, SSCA participated on the Saskatchewan Climate Change Stakeholders committee and has a representative on the Board of Climate Change Saskatchewan. SSCA has also consulted with provincial officials to ensure agriculture was included in Saskatchewan’s climate change policies. On a national level, SSCA has worked with federal policy-makers including both elected officials and the federal “Offset Working Group” to ensure farmers’ interests were represented. In addition to our work within Canada, SSCA has also consulted with farm organizations and government agencies in the USA on agricultural climate change policies.
In April, 2005, SSCA launched a pilot carbon trade for farmers through Environment Canada’s PERRL initiative. This is the first agricultural soil sink offset trade in Canada, selling “Temporary Emission Removals” from zero till farms across Canada to PERRL from 2005 – 2007.
From 1990 - present, the SSCA has operated a province-wide field technology transfer program to promote soil conservation practices to Saskatchewan producers. This extension program has maintained continuous operation through the financial support of various Federal-Provincial sustainable agriculture programs and private support from Monsanto Canada, TransAlta Corp. and Ducks Unlimited Canada. A brief description of our past and current work is listed below:
· Field demonstrations and tours
· Producer meetings
· Equipment field days
· Crop Advisor workshops/Agronomy Updates for industry
· One on one consultations
While SSCA has promoted a variety of soil and water conservation practices, our most notable accomplishment over the past decade has been our success in helping Saskatchewan growers successfully adopt low disturbance direct seeding (no-till) systems. By maintaining a focused, high quality technology transfer and communication program to promote important sustainable land management practices, SSCA has provided producers with the technical support to successfully adopt these management practices. To recognize this work, the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists (SIA) presented the SSCA with the 2003 AGEX award for an “outstanding contribution to agriculture in Saskatchewan.” Saskatchewan has the highest adoption rate of low disturbance direct seeding in Canada with 60% of the seeded area in 2006 (see chart below).
SSCA Board of Directors
An eight member Board of Directors provides direction for the Association’s activities. The Board is comprised of both producers and non-producers representing different regions of Saskatchewan. The executive, which consists of the president and two vice-presidents, is appointed by the Board from those Directors who are producers.
Staff and Offices
After many years, the SSCA no longer has a head office on the Indian Head Research Farm. In the summer of 2013, Saskatoon became the base of operations for the SSCA.
The SSCA has completed several contracts involving technology transfer and agricultural research since 1990. These contracts are consistent with SSCA’s mandate to encourage soil conservation by promoting conservation production systems that improves the land for future generations. The SSCA hires contract employees to perform the work required for our contracts. The following is a brief description of our activities under our major contracts:
A. Prairie Soils and Crops eJournal development – 2007 – 2008
This ACAAFS project developed a farmer-friendly eJournal that aims to bring unbiased, peer-reviewed soil and crop management information to Saskatchewan producers, crop advisors and agrologists.
B. Canadian Agricultural Producers Addressing Environmental Issues (Saskatchewan) – 2006 – 2007
The CAPAEI was a national program to demonstrate and promote Agri-Environmental beneficial management practices. The program, funded by AAFC, was coordinated nationally through the Soil Conservation Council of Canada.
C. Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program: Soil and Nutrient Management (Saskatchewan) – 2004 – 2006
The GHGMP is a national program to demonstrate and promote best management practices that either reduce GHG emissions or sequester soil carbon. The SSCA operates the soil and nutrient management component of this program in Saskatchewan. The objective of this program is to promote low disturbance direct seeding systems, reduced fallow, increased forage production, and improved fertilizer and manure management in both annual and perennial crops. This project was co-funded by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food.
D. Winter Wheat Core Grower program – 2002 - 2004
Ducks Unlimited Canada contracted SSCA to implement a winter wheat extension program in their priority areas. This involved field demonstrations and tours, extension meetings and one on one consultations for producers.
E. Direct Seeding Extension programs – 2000 - 2004
The SSCA provided technology transfer and communication efforts to promote sustainable farming systems including direct seeding systems and winter wheat production. These programs were funded through Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), Monsanto Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada. SAF funded SSCA to implement four projects: the Direct Seeding Conference, the Prairie Steward newsletter, develop the SSCA web site and setup field demonstrations and tours. Monsanto funded SSCA to implement a direct seeding extension program targeting areas of low adoption and promote low budget direct seeding systems.
F. Prairie Soil Carbon Balance Project -- 1996 - 2006
This research project, initiated in 1996, is designed to determine the changes in soil carbon levels after conversion to direct seeding systems. This project is being coordinated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Semi-Arid Prairie Research Centre. 120 benchmark sites throughout Saskatchewan were established on farmers fields in the fall of 1996. The benchmark sites were resampled in 1999 and 2005. The SSCA identified farm cooperators, ensured that treatments were carried out by the cooperators and helped with site sampling and collects benchmark site histories to facilitate future measurements. This project was co-funded by GEMCo from 1997-1999.
G. Agriculture and Agri-Food Innovation Fund (AFIF) – Sustainable Agriculture, Producer Directed Information Delivery – April 1, 1997 to March 31, 2000
Through this program, a producer directed information extension program assisted producers to make more fully informed decisions regarding the adoption of sustainable land management practices, like direct seeding. The program established an information network among researchers, industry and, producers thus helping to ensure the adoption and retention of these systems. The network provided a direct link between producers and researchers and decrease the time necessary for the delivery of this information to the field. The network involved government extension people, non-government producer organizations, ADD boards, producer directed research organizations, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This program was co-funded by Monsanto Canada and TransAlta Corp..
H. Saskatchewan Soil Enhancement Project -- April 1994 to March 1997
This project provided direct seeding extension to Saskatchewan farmers helping to increase the adoption of direct seeding in Saskatchewan. Six soil conservationists developed and implemented the programs for their regions. This project was funded by the Canada-Saskatchewan Agriculture Green Plan, Monsanto Canada and TransAlta Corp..
I. Canada-Saskatchewan Agreement on Soil Conservation -- January 1990 to March 1994
The SSCA was contracted to do the Extension and Awareness component of the Agreement on Soil Conservation. Under this contract the SSCA employed regional soil conservationists, and subject matter specialists to develop and coordinate extension and awareness activities to support the SAVE OUR SOILS program and other components of the Soils Agreement.
Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association
Box 37029 North Park PO
Saskatoon, SK S7K 8J2
Ph: (306) 371- 4213
Detailed background information for SSCA, click here for (PDF)