GFM Network News


“A lot of the newer wheat varieties are moving toward semi-dwarf stature and that doesn’t fit well with what I need for wheat competition characteristics in organic wheat production.” – Ian Cushon, Oxbow.

Homegrown ‘boutique wheat’

Breeding program lets farmers participate in breeding wheat and oat varieties suited to organic production

Reading Time: 5 minutes Not many remember that the Canadian Seed Growers Association started with a seed-selection competition for children. In the early 1900s, agriculturalist James Robertson and philanthropist Sir William MacDonald, wanting to encourage farmers to use seed selection to improve the output and resilience of Canadian farms, targeted their children with a contest: the children would select […] Read more

Treatments included three yield zones and four N fertilizer rates — 0, 50, 100 and 150 per cent N based on soil test.

Zone-by-zone nitrogen application may not pay

A three-year study finds surprisingly little response to extra nitrogen in both high- and low-producing areas

Reading Time: 3 minutes A new Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada study suggests producers should take soil test nitrogen prescriptions by management zone with a grain of salt. They don’t necessarily reflect what researcher Alan Moulin calls the “supplying power” of the soil, and since fields vary, there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription to meet crop nutrient demands. This doesn’t mean producers […] Read more


AAFC tests have been on a pull-type Harrington Seed Destructor, but a newer version is integrated with the combine.

Weed control from the back of the combine

Prairie manufacturers are offering chaff collectors, and AAFC continues tests with the Harrington Seed Destructor

Reading Time: 4 minutes Mechanical weed control hasn’t been widely adopted in Western Canada but it soon will be, says Trevor Thiessen of Redekop Manufacturing in Saskatoon. “We don’t have the same stress on the resistance issue that other parts of the world are seeing. In Canada, we’re five years behind Australia in terms of thinking about mechanical weed […] Read more

General Mills and Cargill Canada have both announced programs aimed at regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture hits the mainstream

Big Ag is getting on the bandwagon, but market premiums still aren’t on the table

Reading Time: 6 minutes If you’re a cattle producer, you may already have heard the term “regenerative agriculture.” If you’re a grain producer, maybe not. But that’s about to change. This spring, General Mills announced a plan to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland in the U.S. and Canada by 2030, and Cargill Canada announced […] Read more


Shallow-rooted pulses such as peas and lentils not only add nitrogen but leave some deeper moisture for a following crop.

A sure-fire piece of crop advice

While there’s no ideal rotation for Western Canada, long-term studies show that over time, diversification will pay off

Reading Time: 3 minutes There are no silver bullets in agriculture — agro-ecosystems are too complex for any one tool to guarantee outcomes. All the same, some tools seem to have an outsized benefit. This holds true for pulses, according to a suite of research studies led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist Yantai Gan, whose focus […] Read more

PGRs may be useful for managing longer-straw varieties and/or crops in fields high in nitrogen.

Shorter straw, higher yield?

Trial assesses plant growth regulators on different varieties at several locations

Reading Time: 4 minutes On paper, it’s an ideal combination — a product which shortens straw but doesn’t reduce yield. But are plant growth regulators (PGRs) a worthwhile investment? That’s being assessed based on ongoing trials in Manitoba. In Canada, the most promising PGR is chlormequat chloride, marketed by EngageAgro under the trade name Manipulator. The product has been […] Read more


Jim Dyck in a field of ORe3541M oats at Sanderson farm near Portage la Prairie, Man., in 2017.

Do-it-yourself plant breeding

Jim Dyck’s new oat varieties have been a decade in the making, but his hard work is about to pay off

Reading Time: 3 minutes If there are any oat producers who haven’t heard of Jim Dyck, that’s soon going to change. Jim and his wife Laura-Lee, who farm near Saskatoon, are the owners of Oat Advantage, one of few private plant breeding businesses in Western Canada. This spring, their first registered oat varieties, ORe3541M and ORe3542M, will be marketed […] Read more

From left, Jennifer and Jay Bruggencate, and Mike and Kelly Sulzle.

Dream team

In Vector Grain, the Bruggencates and Sulzles are collaborating on a joint venture to make their longtime farming dreams a reality. It takes dedication and smarts, and loads of professional advice. But it’s paying off

Reading Time: 8 minutes Mike Sulzle had worked as Craig Shaw’s hired man for 16 years when Shaw approached him in 2015 with surprising news: 2016 would be his last year farming. “Craig had always said I could take over when he quit farming one day, but it wasn’t serious,” says Sulzle. “I didn’t see how I could do […] Read more


Fancy soil test kit — researchers used the Canadian Light Source synchrotron in Saskatoon to analyze the biological cycling P goes through in the soil.

Soil tests may not tell the whole story of phosphorus

Research shows “legacy” phosphorus might support crops long after you’ve stopped making applications

Reading Time: 5 minutes Do soil tests accurately reflect how much phosphorus is actually available to plants? A long-term study at the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Sask., suggests they don’t. Research scientist Barbara Cade-Menun is leading a study on continuous wheat plots established in 1967. Until 1995, the plots received both nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer; […] Read more

Matt Johnson of M3 Aerial Productions says canopy reflectance tells you where you need to take a closer look.

A drone spots a problem in your field. Now what?

Drone-mounted cameras measuring NDVI reflectance can identify crop problems, but not necessarily the cause. Researchers are looking for other tools that might

Reading Time: 5 minutes It’s been more than a few years since drones made their debut in agriculture, but questions about whether they’re worth producers’ time aren’t going away. Most agricultural drones are set up to measure canopy reflectance using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), a graphical indicator that assesses crop health by measuring canopy reflectance. Drones carrying […] Read more