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Farm Adaptation Innovator Program

The Farm Adaptation Innovator Program (FAIP) seeks to build adaptive capacity and encourage the adoption of effective farm practices to help mitigate impacts related to climate change by supporting projects that:

  • Promote innovation in farm practices, approaches and technologies that support climate change adaptation
  • Demonstrate farm practices that reduce weather related production risks, and identify new production opportunities
  • Develop informational and knowledge sharing resources and support increased organization capacity to support adaptation

Five projects were initiated during the pilot phase of this program in 2014/2015. In November of 2014, the program was opened to eligible applicants through a Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) and 47 responses were received. As a result of the (EOI), another nine proposals were approved and all of the program’s $1.75 million in Growing Forward funding has been committed. Project descriptions are provided below, along with project results and deliverables (as they come available).

Project types supported through the program include applied research, pilots, demonstrations and adoption facilitation. Projects may be local, regional or provincial in scope. The resulting knowledge, practice, technology or approach must be applicable at a farm-level scale.

More details about the program parameters and requirements are available through the Farm Adaptation Innovator Program Guide (PDF).

All Farm Innovator Projects

Using Management-Intensive Grazing for Adapting to and Mitigating Climate Change

This multi-year project will evaluate the potential for Management-Intensive Grazing as a tool to strengthen the resilience of rangelands to climate change related impacts. Intensively managed pastures will be observed and compared to more extensively (traditionally) managed pastures on the ranches of 6-8 cattle producers in the BC Interior in a collaborative undertaking with the BC Cattlemen’s Association. The project will use field-based data and remote sensing to measure and monitor range health, and to test for indicators of sustainable pastures and grasslands, including soil carbon, soil moisture availability, plant diversity and productivity.

The project will engage with 5-8 cattle producer co-operators. Findings and conclusions will be communicated via field days and workshops coordinated with the BC Cattlemen’s Association and the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC, as well as through articles to industry-relevant publications. A website and fact sheets will also be created for broad distribution.

For more details and updates on this project, visit the project website at:

Vented Orchard Covers to Protect Cherries Against Rain and Hail

A BC cherry orchard is testing vented orchard covers as a tool to protect tender fruit against rain and hail damage. The technology was pioneered in Europe, where it has been used to substantially reduce rain and hail related fruit damage, and increase water use efficiency in orchards. The project is evaluating the risks and the economic benefits of using vented orchard covers (in combination with wind machines) under current growing conditions in the Okanagan. Project findings will assist producers to assess the potential for this technology to reduce vulnerability to impacts associated with climate change.

The evaluation will compare fruit quality and water use efficiency for cherries grown inside and outside the vented covers, gather data over three years and provide a cost-benefit analysis that will be shared with other growers through publications, field days and presentations.

Demonstrating Innovative Forage Production Practices to Increase Climate Change Adaptation

The ability to consistently produce a suitable volume of export grade, higher value forage in BC’s Central Interior is limited by variable weather conditions usually experienced during the harvest windows. Several forage yield evaluations have been conducted in the Central Interior of BC, but there is little information available on the relationship between weather and forage quality. Producers are also looking for adaptive production options for on-farm feeding and grazing. This project will assist in the development of production and harvest adaptations focused on growing high quality forage under a variety of conditions.

The project includes the installation of weather stations, evaluation of production practices through on-farm trials, and the linking of weather data and results of the farm trials. The project also includes the creation of a manual to assist producers with conducting their own on-farm trials. The combination of project activities seeks to increase information and management options available to producers to assist them in responding to changes in growing conditions.

Participating producers will directly increase their knowledge/capacity. Field days, conducted on participating farms, will share knowledge with area producers. Articles, factsheets, and photos will be posted on Farmwest website. The manual will be made available to producers throughout BC at the end of the project in both an online and hard copy format. Project outcomes will also be presented at a seminar-type event.

Evaluation of Thrips Damage to Potatoes in a Changing Climate

Potatoes are an important crop in BC and their production requires management of many pests, including thrips. The Fraser Valley is expected to have hotter and drier summer conditions and milder winters. Thrips multiply in hot, dry weather and milder winters may also increase winter survival rates. Currently, there are no economic thresholds established for growers for managing thrips outbreaks. In addition to a lack of management tools, little information is available about how thrips impact potato production and subsequent profit.

Working with 16 producer cooperators who grow seed, organic and conventional potatoes, this project will assess: how potato yields are affected by thrips at varying crop stages, local thrips transmission of tomato spotted wilt virus, and the varietal preferences of thrips (all in relation to measured growing season weather conditions). The project also includes extensive knowledge transfer through direct participation of 16-20 growers, presentations at the Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association short course and/or the BC Potato and Vegetable Growers’ Annual General Meeting, a fact sheet and poster widely distributed to BC Potato Growers, and articles in Modern Agriculture and/or Country Life in BC. This will better prepare growers to manage this pest through changing climate conditions.

Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits of Riparian Rehabilitation as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Natural watersheds are inherently resilient and adaptable in the face of altered conditions. Rehabilitation of degraded riparian corridors running through agricultural land is important because natural stream systems provide considerable buffering capacity to absorb the impacts of floods, heat waves, infestations, and other extreme events, thereby offering adaptive capacity to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

This project will assess a group riparian restoration process (supported through the Environmental Farm Plan program) that involves producers in the Alderson Creek drainage in the Fortune Creek Watershed near Armstrong, BC. The project will monitor adoption/implementation of best management practices as well as impacts to the watershed with respect to environmental conditions and resilience.

The rehabilitation project will be monitored to quantify social, economic and bio-physical variables relevant to the project as well as stakeholder attitudes, opinions, and knowledge exchange. The findings will be communicated through two workshops (toward the end of the project), producer bulletins (fact sheets), academic publications and media.

Strategies to Improve Forage Yield and Quality while Adapting to Climate Change

Anticipated changes in climate may impact forage production in the Fraser Valley through increased erosion risk, delays in spring planting, and potential for lower yields due to a shorter growing season with more prolonged hot and dry periods. Developing a toolkit of practical adaptive management strategies will assist forage producers in the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island to improve yield and quality of forage crops under future scenarios of changing climate and increasingly variable weather.

The project will test and demonstrate corn hybrids suited to both late planting and/or early harvesting and that are heat and flood tolerant, as well as winter crops (including grasses, legumes and cereals) that are amenable to a range of planting and harvesting dates. To address the climate change scenario of extended hot dry periods during the growing season, the project will introduce, test and demonstrate advanced irrigation practices (for their role in profitable and sustainable production).

Project findings, will be shared through field days, industry presentations and publications, and through the Pacific Field Corn Association website.

Adapting BC Horticulture through Protected-Crop Research and Demonstration

This project will evaluate to effectiveness of a range of plastic film mulches and low tunnels in modifying soil and horticultural crop environments to support adaptation to anticipated changes in climate in BC (in particular changes and variability in regional temperatures, increases in spring runoff and rainfall, and decreases in available soil water during the summer months).

This project will assess the plastic mulching the tunnel technologies for their ability to: prevent the incidence of early spring and fall frosts, raise average air and soil temperature, maximize photosynthesis, prevent condensation droplets (to decrease incidence of plant disease), and produce early season produce. Experiments will take place at UBC Farm as well as one farm in the Central Interior and one farm in the lower Fraser Valley.

The outcome of this research will be communicated to producers through field tours, presentations to producers, articles in producer journals and magazines, and findings will be integrated into the CSFS Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture curriculum.

Innovative Management Practices for Resiliency

As weather variability and extreme weather events increase, forage producers in the Peace region will require flexible and responsive management strategies. This project will work with Peace producers using a farm systems approach to identify and to adopt nutrient management practices and forage production systems that are more resilient to weather extremes and climate change.

Three strategies will be evaluated including: 1) revitalization of forage stand options (e.g. utilizing existing on farm resources such as nutrients from confined feeding or winterfeeding sites, grazing management, seeding, fertilizing and rejuvenating forage stands to increase production); 2) establishment, production and stand longevity of legume alternatives to alfalfa; and 3) identification of ways to reduce nutrient loss. The three production strategies will be evaluated based on economic indicators, soil quality, soil and crop response and producer perspectives on the adoption of the practice.

Project findings will be shared via field days, seminars/ tours and workshops, the Peace River Forage Association’s website, newsletters and fact sheets.

Keyline Water Management: Field Research & Education in the Capital Region

Climate change projections for Southern Vancouver Island include an overall increase in average annual rainfall but with much of this falling in winter, spring and fall (and through extreme rainfall events). Summers are anticipated to become drier with an increase in extremely hot daysThese changes will require producers to increase the resilience of their operations for both drought and flood conditions.

Keyline Design takes a holistic approach to farm water management and uses natural landscape contours and cultivation techniques to slow, sink and spread rainwater more evenly across the landscape. Keyline design has been successfully applied in similar winter-rain climates in Australia, and this project will introduce and test this approach within an agricultural context in BC.

The project will implement and monitor two ‘Keyline Water Management’ techniques -‘Keyline pattern subsoil ripping’ and ‘Keyline mound formation’- on three farms within the Capital Region with three different production models (pastured livestock, tree and herb crops, and annual vegetables). Three open-access farm plans that promote integrated, mixed farming systems that follow Keyline geometry will be created. In addition to the pilot projects at three farms, the project includes ‘Keyline Design’ seminars and public field days. Farmers will be empowered to use open access GIS imaging technology to better understand their watersheds and help them use Keyline Design patterning.

Improving On-Farm Drainage Management to Reduce the Impacts of Climate Change in Delta, BC

Precipitation patterns in BC’s Fraser delta are expected to continue to shift with an increase in winter precipitation and extreme precipitation events. This has the potential to reduce the number of “workable” days for agricultural production (due to excess moisture on agricultural land), shorten growing or harvest season and/or delay planting. The changing precipitation patterns may also increase flooding and associated risk of crop loss. Increased salinization of productive soils in Delta is also a growing concern associated with climate change.

This project will demonstrate and evaluate on-farm strategies for addressing drainage and salinity problems. At two fields (with known drainage and salinity issues) three drainage management options will be installed each with three treatments of cover. Thirty additional fields (with seven producer cooperators) will be monitored and assessed for efficacy of range of drainage management practices including cleaning and maintenance on drainage tile systems.

Monitoring and data analysis related to these demonstrations will lead to updated factsheets on: drainage design criteria and recommendations, cost benefit estimates for new installations compared to maintenance, and cost benefit estimates of integrating cover crops or grassland set asides into drainage management strategies.

Sharing and transferring of results will include field days, updating of written materials (drainage manual, fact sheets) and a project website.

Adapting to Low Light Growing Conditions using High Tunnel Structures

As global temperatures rise, snowfall and accumulation will likely be reduced and replaced with increased rainfall and accompanying cloud cover. The combination of these effects over the next 30 to 50 years could have very serious implications for agricultural opportunities in the mountainous regions of BC’s Interior. This project will study the viability of using high tunnel structures to improve food-crop production in locations previously seen as undesirable for commercial agriculture, and which may become even more challenging as a consequence of climate change.

This demonstration project will study the viability of winter salad green production in a low-cost, high-tunnel structure heated with a compost heat system in low light conditions, and without supplemental lighting. Data will be collected on crop quality, quantity, days to harvest and planting dates. Findings on which crops are viable in the low light structure will be shared in a final report, which will also offer recommendations on how to construct low-cost, high-tunnel structure that will withstand snow accumulation in mountain/high altitude conditions, encourage and maintain plant growth/crop productivity and maximize light exposure and minimize input costs such as artificial lighting and heating. An overall cost-effectiveness evaluation will be included.

Transfer of knowledge will primarily target small-scale farmers looking for innovative low-cost strategies for extending their growing season.