ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The program will provide 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.

The three activity categories in the OFCAF program are:

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.

Step 1:
review program Guide and Program Overview

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

Step 2:
connect with a certified agronomist 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 or a maximum of $2,000.  

Step 3:
Create your bmp plan

A BMP Action Plan is a document that outlines what steps you as a Producer will take 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

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.

Eligible Participants:

  • You are headquartered in Alberta and will apply funds only to land in Alberta
  • You work with a qualified professional to develop a plan that describes the planned new activities and the cost difference from usual practices
  • You complete an application that includes a recommended plan
  • You provide permission for post-project inspections

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.

timelines & deadlines

RDAR’s OFCAF team will be accepting online applications via ARGO, RDAR’s Grant Management System, from August 4, 2022 – November 7, 2022 for this fiscal year. Projects for this fiscal year must be completed with invoices submitted by January 6, 2023.

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 for all eligible BMPs
  • Payments will be considered taxable income

nitrogen management

Eligible expenses
  • BMP action plan development, or specialized agronomic support provided by a PAg or CCA

  • Costs of soil testing, soil mapping, and tissue testing

  • Higher cost of the portion of nitrogen fertilizer switched from the fall to the spring application window

  • Cost of fertilizer application equipment (rental or custom) to allow for banding, side dressing and injection 

  • Price difference between standard nitrogen fertilizer and nitrogen fertilizer with nitrification inhibitor

  • Custom application costs of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer replacements (manure, compost, or digestate amendments) on cultivated land where it has not been applied in the past 10 years

  • If transitioning to manure, rental or custom costs associated with spreading, using hoses or equipment for shallow incorporation (to avoid volatilisation)

  • Seed and planting costs (custom or equipment rental) to increase perennial legume crops in rotation
Ineligible expenses
  • Costs related to the management of nutrients other than nitrogen are not eligible

  • In the case of transitioning to better manure management, only activities that incorporate manure in the soil are eligible. Injection is the preferred application method for liquid manure. However, if equipment for this is not available, other methods of incorporation as soon as possible after application are also eligible. (Agricultural Operations Practices Act)

  • Determination of costs for using equipment and the associated fuel and labour required for the additional fertilizer application needs to be in line with typical regional rates

  • BMPs used on a specific farm area before April 1, 2022, are ineligible. However, an expansion of a BMP to a different farm area where these BMPs have not been used is eligible

Please note: GST is not eligible for reimbursement.

COVER CROPPING

Eligible expenses
  • Costs related to BMP Action Plan development, or specialized services provided by a PAg or CCA

  • Seed costs for regionally- and commodity- appropriate seed as recommended by a Professional Agrologist or Certified Crop Advisor

  • Planting costs (custom rates or equipment rental)

  • Cover crops underseeded with the main crop or seeded following harvest with sufficient time for adequate growth prior to winter

  • Full season cover crops (annual, biennial or perennial in a rotation, e.g. non-marketable crops that do not take land permanently out of production), or underseeded within a main crop 

  • An expansion of a BMP to a different field where it has not been used before is eligible
Ineligible expenses
  • Corn grown for grazing purposes

  • 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

  • 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 (15cm) of cover crop growth over winter

  • Crops that can be harvested in the next growing season intended for market (e.g. winter cereals)

Please note: GST is not eligible for reimbursement.

rotational grazing

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

  • Rotational grazing materials and installation (e.g. cross fencing, wildlife friendly fencing, temporary fencing, energizers, shallow water pipelines less than 15” (38 cm) and waterers, including remote watering systems when powered by renewable energy)

  • Improved pasture composition (seeding, custom planting or equipment rental costs for alfalfa, sainfoin, etc.)

  • Forage testing (fall or winter)

  • An expansion of a BMP to a different field where it has not been used before is eligible
Ineligible expenses
  • Perimeter fences

  • Removing or replacing old or existing fences

  • Non-renewable power sources such as generators

  • Used fencing materials

  • Texas gates

  • Portable livestock corral panels

  • Ongoing maintenance 

Please note: GST is not eligible for reimbursement.

summary of beneficial management practice (bmp) cost limits

BMPEligible CostUnitsNotes
Soil sampling$50 – $100$ / sampleTo multiple depths
Soil analysis$200 – $300$ / fieldThird party sampling and analysis
Soil mapping$3 – $8 $ / acSoil testing / mapping services
Fall to spring nitrogen (N)$0.03$ / lb actual NPortion of N switched from fall to spring
Banding N$15 – $25$ / acCustom rates*
Split applications of N$7 – $12$ / acCustom rates*
Ammendmentsup to $75$ / acCustom rates for hauling and application*
Drill or air seed$20 – $30$ / acCustom rates*
Broadcast seeding$7 – $12$ / acCustom rates*
Barbed wire – permanent 4$13$ / m Includes materials and installation*
Electric wire – permanent 2$7$ / m Includes materials and installation*
Action Plan recommendation up to 10% Cost of new BMP(s)Maximum $2,000 per activity category
*In-kind is not an eligible expense

PROCESS OVERVIEW

  • Applications must be submitted online via ARGO (Agricultural Research Grant Organizer), RDAR’s Grant Management system. Please note that ARGO will be ready to receive applications on August 4.
  • 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. When you click apply, you will be directed to the OFCAF 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 created a number of ARGO tutorials and have compiled a list of FAQs related to OFCAF to support your application process. A short video on how to navigate ARGO and apply for OFCAF can be found here. If you have any questions or concerns regarding submitting your application in ARGO , please contact us at ofcaf.bmp@rdar.ca.

OFCAF Program Online Application Steps

OFCAF application and evaluation process

All applications received by the deadline of November 7, 2022, 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).  

Will the OFCAF program offer ‘retroactive funding’ for pre-bought purchases such as cover crop seed?

Yes, the OFCAF program could be retroactive until April 1, 2022. However, you still need approval from RDAR to ensure your project and costs are eligible. Please do not assume all projects are eligible until formal approvale are given by RDAR on a case-by-case basis.

I am a certified CCA. Will I be able to provide pictures and sign off on my own Pre-Site Inspection/BMP plan?

Unfortunately, self-approvals aren’t a good idea in any circumstance due to perceptions about conflict of interest. To ensure your plan is reviewed and approved by an impartial and non biased professional, we suggest having a Professional Agrologist review and approve your BMP Plan. Find a certified agronomist using our Guide to Accessing Agricultural Recommendations in Alberta.

For producers that would like to implement a rotational grazing system do have educational resources and
do you know if there is any funding available to assist with the purchase of fencing? 

Technical specialists with local Grazing Associations can help you design a grazing plan to fit your specific livestock and farm conditions.  This plan is also needed for your application for OFCAF funding.  Plans must be approved in writing before funding can be reimbursed.   

You may want to also consider including watering systems and improved pasture compositions in your plan since these will also be eligible for funding from OFCAF.  Please note that only new activities that are not part of your normal grazing practices will be eligible for reimbursement.

Are there rules about the land application of manure or compost in Alberta? 

Yes.  OFCAF funding support is aligned with requirements in Alberta’s Agricultural Operation Practices Act.  This includes incorporation of manure or compost within 48 hours of application to cultivated land, unless the land is direct seeded or in a forage. Minimum set back distances from water bodies, wells and residences are also required.  Anyone who applies more than 500 tonnes of manure annually must also soil test to ensure safe limits are not exceeded for nitrate nitrogen and salinity (based on soil texture) and keep records, see: https://www.alberta.ca/manure-application.aspx .The Alberta-based ManureTracker app is available for Androids, iPads or iPhones to help with farm management and record keeping, see: https://open.alberta.ca/blog/?page_id=430

‘OFCAF Overviews’ powerpoint Slide Presentations

Review all of the information presented during the OFCAF Overviews webinar at anytime. Click the links below to access webinar presentation slides from the following sessions:

‘OFCAF Overviews’ Webinar recordings

WATCH THE RECORDING OF THE ‘OFCAF OVERVIEW’ WEBINAR FOR FARMERS & RANCHERS

Did you miss out on attending an OFCAF Overviews webinar? We’ve got you covered. RDAR’s OFCAF team hosted a webinar geared to farmers and ranchers on August 11th and a recording is now available! Watch this webinar below to learn more about the program and hear the informative OFCAF Q&A session.

WATCH THE RECORDING OF THE ‘OFCAF OVERVIEW’ PAG & CCA WEBINAR

On August 2nd RDAR’s OFCAF team hosted a dedicated webinar with information for Professional Agrologists and Certified Crop Advisors. If you were unable to make it, check out the recording below!

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.

fiona.briody@rdar.ca

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.

franklin.efekalam@rdar.ca

Seanna Sieusahai

Seanna Sieusahai,
Partnership Coordinator

Seanna is passionate about sustainability and innovation. Since graduating from the University of Alberta with a BSc in Biology, she has worked in many different areas of the agriculture industry. With experience in vertical farming technology as well as working directly alongside producers, Seanna is excited for the future of agriculture and implementing more sustainable practices.  

seanna.sieusahai@rdar.ca

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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.