Latest articles


Going beyond NPK in your fertilizer program

New tests get closer to helping producers build soil health

What’s involved in a soil health assessment? And what makes soil “healthy” in the first place? Researchers at the Chinook Applied Research Association (CARA) in Oyen, Alta., are keen to answer these questions for western Canadian producers. The association is launching a new lab in the CARA facilities that will collect and analyze soil samples […] Read more


Is climate change making leaf diseases worse?

Durum quality took a beating last year, and climate change could see more of the same

It is difficult — even impossible — to define the precise relationship between climate change and disease incidence and severity in Western Canada. But new research from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Swift Current Research and Development Centre is contributing a few pieces to the puzzle. Research scientist Myriam Fernandez says breeding for resistance to the […] Read more



The more you spend, the less they work

If you want to keep using herbicides, give them an occasional rest and try a winter cereal or a heavier seeding rate

Neil Harker says that when you no longer have the big hammers in the tool box, it’s time to use the little ones. For the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) weed scientist, wild oat herbicides are the big hammers, and the little ones are integrated weed management practices. Harker says that although western Canadian producers […] Read more


Halting the feed barley decline

Many growers still take a yield penalty in hopes of a malting premium, but breeders say feed varieties offer advantages

Feed barley has some tough competition. Once the second-largest crop by far on the Prairies, in recent years it’s had to compete for acres with canola and pulses. And while malting premiums are still tempting some growers, feed barley has to compete with cheap U.S. corn and corn gluten. As for the formerly touted qualities […] Read more



Peaola continues to show promise

On their own, the peas and canola may only produce 60 per cent of normal, but that still adds up to a 120 per cent yield

Intercropping sometimes gets a bad rap from producers. For one thing, crop insurance often doesn’t cover intercropped mixtures, so if one or both crops fail, they’re out of luck. For another, yield benefits don’t always outweigh the extra legwork required at planting and harvest. But the promise of intercropping is that some crops can be […] Read more


A genetic solution to fusarium?

Across the country, several researchers are studying fusarium from every angle, from pathology to agronomy

In the early ’90s, farmers in the eastern Prairies started to ask questions about odd white “tombstone” wheat kernels. When they received the answer, some wondered whether the name would refer to the tombstone on the grave of the wheat business, especially when there was a huge outbreak in Manitoba in 1993. Near-panic ensued, as […] Read more



Could camelina be ‘the next canola?’

You’ve heard the pitch on this oilseed before, but this time it could actually be true

[Updated Dec. 12, 2016; at bottom] – Jack Grushcow says the sky’s the limit for camelina, and he isn’t referring to the brief but well-publicized test when it was used for jet fuel a couple of years ago. Grushcow is CEO of Linnaeus Plant Sciences, which owns Smart Earth Seeds, a company developing new camelina […] Read more


To spray or not to spray?

A preventive canola spray for sclerotinia can pay off, but not necessarily for blackleg

Keith Gabert rarely tells Alberta canola producers straight up not to spray fungicide as a preventive against sclerotinia stem rot. But last year, the Canola Council of Canada’s agronomy specialist for central Alberta south did just that. “In the Drumheller area, where they don’t always have as much moisture, they’d sprayed for sclerotinia in the […] Read more



Growing your own N

New research in Saskatchewan proves forage rotations of only two years can provide a valuable fertility boost

When Duane Thompson talks about sustainability, he makes no bones about the fact that nothing is sustainable unless it’s economical for the farmer. “Sustainability is a nice notion but you want to be improving and getting better,” he says. “I’m not really big on sustainability — I want to be sustainable-plus.” Thompson is a case […] Read more


Costing out your grain storage options

Grain bags are only economic for larger, 70,000-bushel-plus storage, according to an Alberta Agriculture analysis

The cheapest option for grain storage — piling it right on the ground — is a genius idea if it works, but it’s a disaster if it fails, says Mitch Smith, a customer account manager at United Farmers of Alberta in Vermilion. “Lots of guys do it with a straight-up grain pile into the fall […] Read more