OFCAF PROGRAM

OFCAF provides financial support to producers to accelerate their adoption and implementation of on-farm Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) to lower Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, support production efficiency, sustainability and resiliency on their farm operations.

To assist producers with their adoption of new BMPs, the program will offer producers resources to support BMP implementation and provide BMP design recommendations.

RDAR is a program delivery partner that will administer OFCAF in Alberta, for Alberta’s producers. RDAR is delivering OFCAF in three activity categories:

1. Improving Nitrogen Management

For example, agronomic services to develop farm-specific nutrient management plans, equipment rental or custom rates for fertilizer application in fields, and soil sampling and analysis.

2. Increasing Adoption of Cover Cropping

For example, payment-per-acre to cover adoption or related costs such as seeds and equipment. Cover crops are planted after harvest to protect and enhance the soil rather than for the purpose of being harvested.

3. Expanding the Adoption of Rotational Grazing

For example, agronomic services to develop grazing management plans, install interior cross fencing or water system infrastructure, plant legumes and forages. Rotational grazing is the practice of containing and moving livestock through pasture to allow forage plants to recover, deepen their root systems and improve soil health.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Step 1:
review program Guide and Program Overview

Before you apply, please ensure you read through the OFCAF Program Guide to get a full understanding of the program and confirm you are eligible to receive funding.

Step 2:
connect with a qualified third party (p.Ag / CCA) to review and approve your bmp plan

Before you submit an application to the OFCAF program, you will need to ensure that your desired BMPs are recommended and approved by a Professional Agrologist (PAg) or Certified Crop Advisor (CCA). If you require assistance to pay agronomist fees, OFCAF applicants can apply for cost-shared funding to support agronomic and advisory services for up to 10% of their project costs to a maximum of $2,000.  

Step 3:
Create your bmp plan

A BMP Action Plan outlines what you will do to incorporate Beneficial Management Practices on your farm operation. While each farm is unique, farmers should consider all the various OFCAF BMP eligible expenses and choose those best suited to your needs and adapt them to the specific conditions on your farm.

  • Each online application requires the submission of a BMP Action Plan.
  • The templates below outline required practices to successfully integrate new BMPs to on-farm activities.
  • A qualified Professional Agrologist (PAg) or Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) must recommend each project prior to the submission of an online application.
  • Costs to develop a plan cannot exceed 10% of the total project costs to a maximum of $2,000.

Step 4:
Provide Aerial photos of your land

Before you submit an application to the OFCAF program, you will need to provide aerial images of your land. These pictures should show any land location where you may be implementing a BMP to demonstrate that it did not exist before applying to the program.

Aerial photos can come from sources such as GeoDiscover Alberta or Google Earth. Please include existing fences and proposed fences on the air photo in different colors or provide some other easy way to distinguish between the two. Also, identify current water sources and proposed water distribution.

Step 5:
Apply to OFCAF using ARGO

OFCAF will open for applications starting February 13, 2023. You must submit all OFCAF application materials online using ARGO (Agriculture Research Grant Organizer), RDAR’s online grant management system. Once you create and have your account validated, ARGO allows you to manage your OFCAF application, view all funding-related interactions, and see payment details.

PROGRAM DETAILS

OFCAF provides cost-shared funding to eligible producers and supports the training of Certified Crop Advisors and Agrologists as well as information sharing throughout the agricultural community. The objective of OFCAF is to support Producers in adopting Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases, specifically in the areas of:  

1. Nitrogen Management  

2. Cover Cropping  

3. Rotational Grazing 

These practices also provide other environmental benefits such as improved biodiversity and soil health. Other activities to support the adoption of BMPs, such as outreach, education, and training, are also supported. 

ELIGIBLITY

Who can apply:

You are an active producer, including proprietorship, corporation, or registered partnership, that can demonstrate a minimum of $25,000 of gross farm income in Alberta.

To receive funding, applicants must meet these conditions:

  • Be an active producer (includes a proprietorship, corporation, or registered partnership) that can demonstrate a minimum of $25,000 of gross farm income in Alberta.
  • Work with a Professional Agrologist (PAg) or Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) to develop a BMP Action Plan that is based on agronomic advice and identifies the cost difference from usual practices.
  • The BMP Action Plan must include labelled maps of project field boundaries on air photos or images. Any method may be used.
  • Complete an online application using RDAR’s Agriculture Research Grant Organizer, ARGO, that describes current practices and planned improvements.
  • Document pre- and post-project conditions with date-stamped GPS-located photographs.
  • Provide permission for post-project inspectons.
  • Be headquartered in Alberta and apply funds only to lands in Alberta.
  • Have a minimum eligible project cost of $2,500.
  • Pay 100% of the costs upfront (no in-kind). All payments will be considered taxable income.
  • Pre-approval is required to be eligible for program funding.
  • Landlords whose only interest is in the land are not raising crops or livestock are ineligible.

Note: Funding is intended to increase new adoption of BMPs; farmers cannot receive funding for a BMP where it is already in use and project costs funded from sources other than OFCAF are not eligible for reimbursement. BMP implementation must be new to farm or field.

As RDAR is a producer-driven organization, RDAR Directors eligible for the OFCAF funding will be entitled to apply along with all other qualified applicants. RDAR reviews all applications in the order received, and applications from Directors will be subject to a third-party review.

OFCAF Important timelines & deadlines

TOPICACTIVITYYEAR 2
ApplicationsOpenFebruary 13, 2023
ApplicationsCloseNovember 30, 2023
InvoicesSubmittedJanuary 31, 2024
PaymentsSent byMarch 31, 2024

Please note that only applications submitted online through ARGO will be accepted. Fax, paper, or email applications will not be accepted.

MAXIMUM AMOUNTS FOR ELIGIBLE EXPENSES

  • Applicants are eligible for multiple projects to a combined maximum grant payment of $75,000
  • Applicants are eligible for a maximum 85% reimbursement of eligible cash expenditures across the three BMP target areas
  • Applicants must pay for 100% of the upfront costs with no payment for in kind
  • Applicants are required to submit invoices, showing that all payments have been received, for all eligible BMPs
  • Payments will be considered taxable income

nitrogen management

Eligible Costs
  • BMP action plan development*, or specialized agronomic support provided by a PAg or CCA
  • Costs** of soil sampling; soil testing***; field zone mapping, sampling & testing*** for variable rate N prescription; and tissue testing***
  • Cost of N fertilizer application (rental or custom)** to allow for banding, side dressing or injection when the previous practice was broadcast applications of N fertilizer, $15,000 maximum
  • Price difference between standard N fertilizer and N fertilizer with both nitrification and urease inhibitors
  • Price difference between standard N fertilizer and Environmentally Smart Nitrogen (ESN)** $4,800 maximum
  • Custom transportation and spreading costs** of synthetic N fertilizer replacements (manure, compost, or digestate amendments) on land where it has not been applied in the past 10 years
  • Costs** of injecting liquid amendments on perennial forage land
  • If transitioning to manure, rental or custom costs** associated with spreading and the use of drag lines
  • Seed and planting costs** (custom or equipment rental) by September 15 to allow adequate growth to increase perennial legume crops in annual crop rotations (seed mix must have 50% legume)

*Templates are available (rdar.ca/ofcaf) to identify a Nitrogen Management BMP Action Plan for Soil Testing and Mapping; Fertilizers; and/or Amendments. Consideration of the plan for funding requires endorsement by a PAg or CCA. The cost of the BMP Action Plan recommendation may not exceed 10% of the total cost of all eligible BMP(s), to a maximum of $2,000 per applicant (total 2022 + 2023).

**Eligible cost limits are listed in a summary table on page 7 of the OFCAF Program Guide.

***The minimum soil sampling depth required is 12” (30 cm). Soil analysis for nitrogen content must use recognized analysis protocols in accredited laboratories (see: Soil Testing and Mapping Template).

Ineligible Costs, Limitations and Explanations

• Fields currently mapped for variable rate N are not eligible for re-mapping

• Soil and tissue samples not tested using recognized analysis protocols in accredited laboratories

• Rent-to-own equipment

• Amendments applied to native grassland • Cost of amendments

• Cost to incorporate amendments

• Biological products e.g. inoculants

• Seeding only grass into perennial forage or into established hay

*Templates are available (rdar.ca/ofcaf) to identify a Nitrogen Management BMP Action Plan for Soil Testing and Mapping; Fertilizers; and/or Amendments. Consideration of the plan for funding requires endorsement by a PAg or CCA. The cost of the BMP Action Plan recommendation may not exceed 10% of the total cost of all eligible BMP(s), to a maximum of $2,000 per applicant (total 2022 + 2023).

**Eligible cost limits are listed in a summary table on page 7 of the OFCAF Program Guide.

***The minimum soil sampling depth required is 12” (30 cm). Soil analysis for nitrogen content must use recognized analysis protocols in accredited laboratories (see: Soil Testing and Mapping Template).

Please note: GST is not eligible for reimbursement.

COVER CROPPING

Eligible Costs
  • Costs related to BMP Action Plan development*, or specialized services provided by a PAg or CCA
  • Seed costs for regional and commodity appropriate seed as recommended by a PAg or CCA
  • Planting costs** (custom rates or equipment rental
  • Cover crops underseeded with the main crop or seeded following harvest of the main crop by September 15, to allow sufficient time for adequate growth prior to winter
  • Full season cover crops in a rotation (e.g. non-marketable crops that will be terminated the following crop year so annual cropping can resume)
  • If project is to include perennial legumes in annual crop rotations, check Nitrogen Management – Fertilizer BMP list. If improving pasture composition with legumes, check Rotational Grazing BMP list
  • Cover crops that will leave more than 6 inches (15 cm) of growth over winter after harvesting or grazing

Templates are available (rdar.ca/ofcaf) (see Cover Cropping Template) to identify a BMP Action Plan to include with OFCAF applications. Consideration of the Plan for funding requires endorsement by a PAg or CCA. The cost of the BMP Action Plan recommendation may not exceed 10% of the total cost of all eligible BMP(s), to a maximum of $2,000 per applicant (total of 2022 + 2023).**Eligible third party custom rates are listed in the summary table on page 7.

Ineligible Costs, Limitations and Explanations
  • Costs for cover crops where growing and leaving cover crops undisturbed over winter is not new and has been a routine practice used by the farmer
  • Costs related to mechanical or chemical termination of the cover crop
  • Corn grown for grazing purposes, silage crops without live roots
  • Swath grazing without a brassica• Annual crop regrowth • Fertilizer and crop protection costs
  • Costs related to rejuvenation of existing forages, pastures, or hay land
  • Crops that will be harvested or grazed leaving less than 6 inches (15 cm) of cover crop growth over winter
  • Crops that can be harvested in the next growing season intended for market (e.g. winter cereals)
  • Rent-to-own equipment

Templates are available (rdar.ca/ofcaf) (see Cover Cropping Template) to identify a BMP Action Plan to include with OFCAF applications. Consideration of the Plan for funding requires endorsement by a PAg or CCA. The cost of the BMP Action Plan recommendation may not exceed 10% of the total cost of all eligible BMP(s), to a maximum of $2,000 per applicant (total of 2022 + 2023).**Eligible third party custom rates are listed in the summary table on page 7.

Please note: GST is not eligible for reimbursement.

rotational grazing

Eligible Costs

• BMP Action Plan*, grazing management plans, technical assessments or engineered designs

• Rotational grazing fencing materials and installation** (e.g. cross fencing, wildlife friendly fencing, temporary fencing, energizers).

• Shallow water distribution systems that are part of a rotational grazing strategy including shallow water pipelines (maximum 2” (5 cm) diameter and less than 15” (38 cm) deep), and waterers, including remote watering systems when powered by renewable energy

• Custom installation and equipment rental

• Costs** for seed (alfalfa, sainfoin, etc.), custom planting or equipment rental to improve legume composition in pastures. The seed must include 50% legumes and be direct seeded by September 15

• Forage testing (fall or winter)

• All costs must be part of a rotational grazing plan

* Templates are available (rdar.ca/ofcaf) (see Rotational Grazing template) to identify a BMP Action Plan to include with OFCAF applications. Consideration of a BMP Action Plan for funding requires endorsement by PAg or CCA. The cost of the BMP Action Plan recommendation may not exceed 10% of the total cost of all eligible BMP(s), to a maximum of $2,000 per applicant (total of 2022 + 2023).

**Eligible materials and third party installation costs are listed in the summary table on page 7. Applications to install permanent features on land that is not owned must declare that they have permission from the landlord.

Ineligible Costs, Limitations and Explanations

• Perimeter fences

• Maintenance or replacement of existing fences

• Smart collars for virtual fences

• Bush clearing

• Used fencing materials

• Fencing specific to wildlife management

• Texas gates

• Portable livestock corral panels

• Water systerms without a rotational grazing plan

• In-yard or in-corral watering devices

• Trailers for hauling water

• Development of new water supplies such as springs, dugouts or wells • Deep, buried water lines

• Non-renewable power sources such as generators

• On-going maintenance

• Seeding only grass into perennial forage or to establish hay

• Rent-to-own equipment

* Templates are available (rdar.ca/ofcaf) (see Rotational Grazing template) to identify a BMP Action Plan to include with OFCAF applications. Consideration of a BMP Action Plan for funding requires endorsement by PAg or CCA. The cost of the BMP Action Plan recommendation may not exceed 10% of the total cost of all eligible BMP(s), to a maximum of $2,000 per applicant (total of 2022 + 2023).

**Eligible materials and third party installation costs are listed in the summary table on page 7. Applications to install permanent features on land that is not owned must declare that they have permission from the landlord.

Please note: GST is not eligible for reimbursement.

summary of beneficial management practice (bmp) cost limits

BMPEligible CostUnitsNotes
Soil testing – producerup to $100$ / sampleTo multiple depths
Soil testing – third partyup to $300$ / fieldThird party sampling and analysis
Field zone mapping, sampling & testingup to $8 $ / acVariable rate N prescription services
Switch regular N-fertilizer to ESN$107
$.11
$ / tonne ESN
$ / lb actual N
Costs subject to change, maximum of $4,800*
Banding or side dressed applications of N$15 – $25$ / acCustom rates** maximum of $15,000*
Split applications of N$7 – $12$ / acCustom rates**
Amendmentsup to $75$ / acCustom rates** for transportation and spreading only
Drill or air seed$20 – $30$ / acCustom rates**
Broadcast seeding$7 – $12$ / acCustom rates**
4 strand permanent barbed wire$13$ / m Includes materials and custom installation**
2 strand permanent electric wire$7$ / m Includes materials and custom installation**
BMP Action Plan recommendation up to 10% Total cost of all eligible BMP(s)Maximum $2,000*
*Per applicant (total of 2022 + 2023). **In-kind costs and leased or rent-to-own equipment are not eligible expenses.

PROCESS OVERVIEW

  • Applications must be submitted online via ARGO (Agriculture Research Grant Organizer), RDAR’s Grant Management system.
    • An BMP Action Plan must be recommended by a PAg or CCA and be submitted with the online application
  • Applicants will receive approval for their proposed project with a pre-approved budget
  • Once the project is completed, applicants are required to submit invoices for all eligible BMPs
  • RDAR will review the invoice and ensure they match the approved project
  • Funds will be delivered to each applicant

For successful applicants, the maximum amount of funds that can reimbursed from all government sources (federal, provincial, or municipal) is $75,000.

HOW TO APPLY

To make the OFCAF application process easy, you must submit all application materials online using ARGO. ARGO is the name of OFCAF’s one-stop grant management portal that will enable you to seamlessly manage your research grants and view all your funding-related interactions with OFCAF right from application creation to payment management. 

Visit the ARGO Portal. Please create an account and register your organization (i.e. farm/ranch). Once the OFCAF Team have validated your information, you will be able to apply to the fund. OFCAF applicants are encouraged to include only activities that they are confident will be completed on time and within budget limits. Please note you are able to submit more than one application over the course of the program.

have questions about the argo application process?

We’ve developed many tools to help support you in the application process:

If you have any questions or concerns regarding submitting your application in ARGO , please contact us at ofcaf.bmp@rdar.ca.

OFCAF application and evaluation process

All 2023 applications received by the deadline of November 30, 2023 will be reviewed and evaluated based on applicant and activity eligibility and feasibility. If an application has not been recommended by a professional Agrologist prior to submission, then the application evaluation will be paused until the application receives review from a Professional Agrologist or Certified Crop Advisor (CCA).  

Questions? We haVE answers

To help farmers and ranchers navigate the OFCAF program, we’ve answered the most common questions we’ve received so far.

OFCAF presentations

Here are two presentations to introduce the OFCAF program. Select the presentation that’s right for you:

OFCAF Webinars

WATCH THE ‘OFCAF OVERVIEW’ WEBINAR FOR
FARMERS & RANCHERS

Watch the webinar below to learn more about the program.

Playtime: 31 minutes

WATCH THE ‘OFCAF OVERVIEW’ PAG & CCA WEBINAR

RDAR’s OFCAF team hosted a webinar aimed at Professional Agrologists and Certified Crop Advisors.

Playtime: 65 minutes

MEET THE OFCAF TEAM

Fiona Briody

Fiona Briody,
Program Manager

Fiona brings over 20 years of experience working in the agriculture/environment field. She has developed and delivered numerous programs to Alberta farmers and ranchers including the first Ag Policy Framework beneficial management program and the Environment Farm Plan. She brings a broad range of experience working within government, the private sector and non-profit organizations including crop insurance, lending, and environment policy work (e.g. AB Water Council) as well as work on the ecosystems service framework. She was the first in Canada to get a license to grow hemp. She is a first-generation owner/operator of a black angus cow calf operation for the last 25 years. Fiona has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Alberta.

Christy Hoy

Christy Hoy,
Technical Lead

Christy grew up on a mixed farm and is passionate about agriculture. She holds a B.A. from Augustana University College in Biology and a B.Sc. from the University of Alberta in Environmental and Conservation Sciences. She has over 14 years of public service experience in crop research and collaborating with producers. Christy is excited to join RDAR and to support sustainable agriculture.

Franklin Efekalam

Franklin Efekalam,
Grant Administrator

Franklin is a highly motivated professional with over 5 years of experience working as an administrator in the educational and financial industry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree (BSc) in Statistics and a Master of Science (MSc) in Economics. Franklin recently worked with one of the top four Canadian banks as an Operations Officer, He is result-oriented and enjoys providing administrative support and value-added solutions.

Lori Duchesnay

Lori Duchesnay,
OFCAF Administrative Coordinator

Lori has over 25 years of administrative experience working in various roles in the natural gas utilities industry.  She holds a Legal Assistant Diploma from the Career College in Calgary.  Lori is an active member of the Association of Administrative Professionals, Edmonton Chapter.  In the past, Lori participated in an international agricultural exchange program to New Zealand where she learned about agriculture practices down under on a dairy farm.  She lives north of Edmonton in an agricultural community and cares deeply about the future of farming in Alberta.

Vishal Bhagria

Vishal Bhagria,
Project Accountant

Vishal is a highly motivated professional who brings a passion for success and an attitude to deliver results. He is an excellent team player and helps keep morale up during times of uncertainty. Although the agriculture industry is new to Vishal, he comes from the construction industry where the working environment is also fast paced. Vishal is excited to gain knowledge in this industry. He is passionate about seeing goals being met. Vishal graduated from NAIT with a Bachelor of Administration and is excited to join RDAR and to see the organization thrive in this growing industry. 

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Costs and program details may be updated during the term of the program. Please subscribe below to receive updates and notifications to program changes. Visit our newsletters page to see past OFCAF communications.