GFM Network News


Kristen MacMillan says interactions such as bean type, variety, inoculant type and environment can affect how edible beans interact with the N in the soil.

How much N? A soil test isn’t the only answer

Different crops, different varieties, different inoculants, and different soil environments all affect the N-application decision these days

You need to know two things to calculate your nitrogen application — the crop requirement and the available N in the soil. At least that used to be the case, but it’s not now, not since pulse crops have become such an important part of the rotation. When it comes to fixing N, not all […] Read more

Importing the LEAN philosophy to your farm

Money Management: At first, it seemed ‘Lean’ might only work on small farms. Now it’s showing how to drive out waste and pump up profit on large farms too

Lean” is a management and organizational system originally developed by car manufacturer Toyota. There wasn’t a farm in sight. But now, after boosting balance sheets for so many other businesses worldwide, some think it’s about time mainstream agriculture got onboard. We will meet Indiana farmer Ben Hartman who has been applying Lean principles to his […] Read more


Embrace those business growing pains

Money Management: A look at how Lean manufacturing is implemented

Let’s say your farm business has been bumping along much as anyone would expect. You’ve been experimenting with some new crops, maybe investing in some updated technology along the way, all the while riding the inevitable ups and downs of the farming road. Then, out of the blue, something is keeping you up at night. […] Read more

Lean on this farm

Five steps for lean management

For the past 10 years, Ben Hartman and his wife Rachel Hershberger have been running a Lean farm near Goshen, Indiana. That’s “Lean” meaning efficient and highly productive, not in the sense of barely surviving. Today Hartman, author of The Lean Farm, is recognized as one of the United States’ leading experts on applying lean […] Read more


Acres of corn are a more common sight right across Western Canada these days.

Taking the corn plunge in the West — gradually

Experienced farmers on the Prairies say to start by planning how you’ll dry your trial corn crop. Then, everything else will fall in place

Access to new shorter-season genetics means many Prairie farmers would like to give corn a try, but they’re put off by the considerable upfront costs for equipment such as planters, combine headers, grain dryers and additional storage. For those who want to start with a trial run, however, there are options such as sharing equipment […] Read more

“Soil is life,” says producer Blain Hjertaas. “Our job as farmers is to be stewards of that, and improve it as we use it.”

The building block of soil

Soil scientists are putting more focus on the value of organic matter for feeding important microbes and boosting moisture-managing capacity

Without it, soil is just dirt. There’s a new recognition of the importance of soil organic matter, and not only for improving crop yields. It’s also a tool in the effort to mitigate climate change. Blain Hjertaas, a holistic management farmer and grazier at Redvers, Sask., participates in the Soil Carbon Challenge, an international “competition” […] Read more


The ‘succession effect’

Setting transition as a goal for your farm can spur growth and profitability, until about three-quarters of the way through

All farmers, no matter where they farm in the world, share certain characteristics. They are all born worriers, and they all have lots to worry about — weather, crop prices, markets. And on top of the day-to-day production issues, and the management challenges involved in running today’s complex farm operations, farmers also have a lot […] Read more

Get over it

When succession talks start, it doesn’t take long for Dad to think everyone just wants to cut him down to size

It’s impossible to think about the transition of any business — and perhaps more so the family farm — without talking about the governance structure that is going to allow that farm business to operate, thrive and be sustainable for generations to follow. It’s easy to find. Just look for the fireworks. “The flashpoints usually […] Read more


The Badiou family is well into the process of transitioning the family farm to the next generation.

Impressing Mom and Dad

There’s more reason than ever for farm kids to prove to Mom and Dad that they’ve got what it takes to be trusted with the farm. Question is: do the kids realize it?

Transitioning the family farm to the next generation is never easy. But how much harder when the parents have their doubts whether their next generation has the skills or the personality to manage the operation? On more and more farms, the wise thing would be for the kids to set out to prove to Mom […] Read more

Research is showing a new trend among farm retirees is finding something rewarding to do, which may involve doing something they’ve delayed due to career or family responsibilities.

‘Redirection’

Is it better to keep farming into your 70s, or to retire off the farm in your early 60s? New research suggests that what you may really need is a rewarding change of direction

It’s easy to see the two pincers coming together, at least when you look at farming from a national perspective. The average Canadian farmer is 55, on the one hand, and the average Canadian retires at 62 on the other. But let’s put a best-case face on it. For self-employment Canadians — the category that […] Read more