GFM Network News


Miles Dyck studied sulphur deficiency at the Breton Plots, a long-term crop rotation research site established in 1930.

Nutrient balance key to avoiding sulphur deficient soils

Production of more high-sulphur demand crops such as pulses and canola is creating a shortage in some fields

In order for any crop to use fertilizer efficiently, it needs to have all of its nutrient deficiencies met, says Miles Dyck, an associate professor of soil science in the department of renewable resources at the University of Alberta. The most common nutrient deficiencies in Western Canada are nitrogen and phosphorus, but because of the […] Read more

Six tips for a smooth soybean harvest

For two-thirds of soybean producers in Saskatchewan last year, it was their first time growing the crop, with seeded acres up to 850,000 from just 239,939 in 2016. In Manitoba, soybean acreage jumped from over a million and a half acres to well over two million acres in 2017. Estimated acreage is lower this year[...]
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Tillage is the number one soil-degrading process, says one University of Manitoba professor.

Tillage erosion costing farmers billions

The pressure to get an early start on newer crops such as corn and soybeans encourages tillage practices which may not be sustainable

This past spring was one of the worst on record for so-called “snirt,” or dirty snow, in ditches across the Prairies — a sign that wind is moving loose topsoil to the margins of fields. While snirt is an indication that fields are susceptible to wind erosion, however, University of Manitoba soil science professor David[...]
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If a test finds pathogen populations in a field are overcoming R-gene “A,” the producer can opt to plant seed containing R-gene “B” so the pathogen doesn’t face the same selection pressure.

Another item to put in rotation

A new tool can determine which blackleg genes are in a field, allowing growers to choose a variety that will prolong the life of their resistance genetics

A new tool will help western Canadian producers implement “educated rotations” to prolong the utility of blackleg resistance genes in canola, says Dilantha Fernando, a plant science professor at the University of Manitoba. Blackleg is on the upswing in Canada. According to canola researchers, blackleg resistance is starting to break down due to a combination[...]
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SeCan says wheat midge tolerance saves producers $40 to $60 million per year.

Protect your midge-tolerant wheat

The midge-tolerance gene was found in the majority of SWS wheats in 2017. Refuge seed is required to keep this trait in play

Producers should add refuge seed to most Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) and Soft White Spring (SWS) wheat varieties in 2018 to prolong the longevity of the midge-tolerance Sm1 gene, says Todd Hyra, western business manager for seed marketing agency SeCan. Last spring, Canadian researchers discovered Sm1 in most SWS varieties, including AAC Indus, AC[...]
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Isaiah Swidersky says resistant varieties are one organic defence against late blight, but these varieties aren’t always the ones in highest consumer demand.

Growing potatoes without chemicals

Organic potato production on a commercial scale is a challenge, but one Ontario grower is meeting it

Isaiah Swidersky offers a careful answer when asked if organic potato production is a risk worth taking. “To some degree it is, but there’s a reason I haven’t expanded it to 200 or 300 acres,” Swidersky says. “It’s a challenge to grow organic potatoes. But I’m optimistic. It’s a good challenge.” Swidersky’s operation, Rose Mountain[...]
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Sunflowers need a hybrid lift

With Western sunflower acres dropping sharply in recent years, new varieties are needed to claw acres back from easier-to-grow soybeans

There are fewer sights more appealing than a field of mature sunflowers, but this golden vision is growing rarer. The reason is simple — sunflowers are losing out to soybeans. In Canada’s biggest sunflower province, Manitoba, acres dropped under 62,000 this year, with a little more than half the crop going to black oil and[...]
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This earthen “tank” is 100 feet above the Coen farmyard and provides gravity pressure for livestock watering, irrigation and fire protection. For more photos and videos of the Coen farm, visit YouTube.com and search for “Takota Coen — Grass Roots Family Farm.”

‘Farmscaping’ for profitability, sustainability

Applying some of the same principles from kitchen design can improve the environment and the workflow on the farm

“Farmscaping” might be a new term for many western Canadian producers, but it’s shorthand for a familiar set of ideas: building features like shelterbelts and perennial strips into the farm landscape to best utilize their ecological goods and services. In other words, taking a “whole-farm” approach, with the goal of maximizing profitability and sustainability. Joanne[...]
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General Mills is offering free flower seed to conservation-minded farmers who are interested in promoting habitat for predators and pollinators such as the native leafcutter bee.

Give your insect friends a home

Leaving some non-crop areas with a diverse range of perennial vegetation can save you money on insecticide

What do shelterbelts, pivot corners and field margins have in common? No, they’re not unprofitable or “wasted” areas. As natural habitats for beneficial insects, including pollinators and predators of crop pests, those non-cropped areas may be worth their square footage in gold. Alejandro Costamagna, an assistant professor in the University of Manitoba’s department of entomology,[...]
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Manitoba Agriculture soil specialist is working with a Canadian Foodgrains Bank conservation agriculture (CA) project in Kenya. The hand at top is holding soil from a CA field while the soil in hand at bottom is from a non-CA field immediately adjacent. The CA field has been in CA practice for three years, or six cropping cycles. The CA soil has more aggregation and is darker, indicating more organic matter.

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[...]
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