GFM Network News


Jennifer and Michael Doelman grew this crop of canola and 4010-type forage peas on their farm at Renfrew, Ontario. They will “absolutely” try the crop again in 2020.

Two farmers make the case for pea-canola intercropping

Growing two crops in the same field sounds like it could be difficult, but these two farmers have figured it out and say the result is higher profit

Reading Time: 9 minutes Intercropping is an ancient farming practice. Farmers in Meso-america thousands of years ago started growing “the three sisters” — corn, beans and squash — together in the same fields, letting the symbiotic nature of their biologies provide an overall better result than growing them separately. Strong cornstalks provided a “pole” for the climbing beans. Beans […] Read more

“Put two crops together, and you have less disease overall and the oilseed crop is able to take advantage of the pulse benefits in that year…”

Two research projects looking at intercrops

Western Ag Innovations run intercrop trials in southern Alberta

Reading Time: 4 minutes Eric Bremer is leading a research project on intercropping in the Lethbridge area. Bremer was involved in intercropping research as a grad student back in the 1980s and jumped at the opportunity to look at it again with the support of Western Ag Innovations owner Ken Greer and a research grant from Alberta Pulse Growers […] Read more


Bob Bartley checks on his canola stand establishment in early June 2019.

Getting to higher canola emergence

With consistent depth, placement into warm, moist soils, and good competition against weeds, your canola fields can turn a higher percentage of seeds into mature, high-yielding plants

Reading Time: 7 minutes Bob and Shelley Bartley raised some eyebrows when Shelley shared photos of their seeding tool on Twitter. The farmers from Roland, Man., seed with a 35-year-old John Deere hoe box drill attached to a new John Deere cart. “I bought that John Deere 9450 hoe drill for $17,000 way back when,” Bob Bartley says. “We […] Read more

To reach this point, there are a variety of things you can do to make sure your canola seed rises to the occasion come harvest.

At a glance: 10 tips to improve survival of your canola seed

Reading Time: 2 minutes Only about 50 to 60 per cent of canola seeds survive to become productive plants, on average. With the following tips, canola farmers can increase seed survival and get more from their seed investment. 1. Seed shallow. Half an inch to one inch below the packer furrow is the recommended seed depth for canola. This […] Read more


A new approach to phosphorus applications

With variable-rate application at soil-building rates, Scott Keller’s investment in phosphate fertility is paying dividends in higher yields, improved nutrient use efficiency and fewer days to maturity

Reading Time: 5 minutes Scott Keller didn’t fully appreciate the benefit of phosphorus fertilizer until he ran out a few times at seeding. If the drill tank petered out of prills part-way along a pass, he’d continue to the end of the field before filling up. It was phosphorus after all, not nitrogen. “But these missed strips stood out […] Read more

The long-term strategy for P management relies on building, maintaining or depleting soil P, based on soil test P concentration. Medium (M) would be around 15 ppm. High (H) would be around 30 ppm. Source: “4R Management of Phosphorus Fertilizer in the Northern Great Plains: A Review of the Scientific Literature,” by Cindy Grant and Don Flaten.

Phosphorus 101: The basic BMPs

Here are the basic best management practices for phosphorus fertilizer

Reading Time: 3 minutes Soil tests The Olsen (bicarb) test is effective across a wide range of soils, including the high pH calcareous soils common in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, while the Bray test is effective only in neutral to lower pH non-calcareous soils, as are found in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Kelowna and modified Kelowna tests are also […] Read more


Dallas Timmerman uses a Leon scraper to put topsoil back on his eroded and degraded hilltops. He also adds manure. These measures don’t take a lot of time and have led to a large yield increase on those acres.

Timmerman trains the Tiger Hills of Treherne

A Manitoba farmer has seen major yield improvement by recapping his hills with topsoil from his lower land

Reading Time: 5 minutes Dallas Timmerman farms in the Tiger Hills around Treherne, Man., and sometimes those tigers need training. “We have a lot of hills and sometimes you need to be aggressive with them,” he says. Timmerman’s chair and whip are a Leon scraper and Versatile 4WD. He started training his hills over a decade ago, working on […] Read more

Dr. Edward Cocking of the University of Nottingham discovered sugarcane bacteria which are now being sold as crop treatment.

Capturing nitrogen from thin air

Has a U.K. scientist found the nitrogen-fixing bacteria we’ve been waiting for? If he has, it could be great news for nitrogen-hungry crops

Reading Time: 5 minutes The air around us and in every nook and cranny between soil particles is 78 per cent nitrogen, yet farmers pay billions per year for N fertilizer. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find efficient, low-cost, hard-working bacteria to convert nitrogen in the air into an available form of N for any crop — […] Read more



“A seeding rate that targets five to eight plants per square foot is like yield insurance,” says Autumn Barnes with the Canola Council of Canada.

What’s the best seeding rate for canola?

The optimal rate balances seed cost, in-season management costs and yield potential. Here's how farmers can set the ideal seeding rate for each field

Reading Time: 6 minutes If you want the ideal, uniform, early-established canola stand of five to eight plants per square foot, don’t rely on a scale. “When it comes to setting a seeding rate to achieve that stand, the common five pounds per acre is not precise enough,” says Autumn Barnes, agronomy specialist and stand establishment lead for the[...]
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