GFM Network News


Farming can be mixed with a combination of crops and livestock over a region, rather than on individual farms.

Mixed farming without livestock

Integrated farming gives the grain producer the rotational benefit of a forage in the rotation, and the livestock producer the benefit of a feed supply

Reading Time: 5 minutes Back around 2004, Trevor Atchison discovered a unique way of getting a crop from a neighbour’s field without either planting it or paying rent. It was an alfalfa field and Atchison, a cattle producer near Pipestone in western Manitoba, needed feed for his beef cows. So he cut and baled standing forage from the field, […] Read more

If you could convince wheat or barley to form nodules like these, you might be able to skip your annual nitrogen purchase.

The ‘Holy Grail’ in cereal technology

Can wheat and barley really be taught to act like pulses, and produce their own fertilizer?

Reading Time: 5 minutes A new research project funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission and the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission will try to answer a question that has bedevilled plant scientists for years: can cereal crops be made to fix their own nitrogen the way legumes do? The AWC is spending $100,000 to have Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists […] Read more


Jitendra Paliwal (left) adjusts the antennae on the 3D electromagnetic imaging system at the U of M’s grain storage research laboratory while Paul Card (right) watches.

Detecting spoilage before it starts

An adaptation of cancer-screening technology offers a better and safer way to check for grain bin moisture, with a bonus of theft detection

Reading Time: 5 minutes An electromagnetic imaging technique originally designed to detect breast cancer tumours is now being adapted for a totally different use — locating spoiled grain in bins. The research project at the University of Manitoba uses electromagnetic imaging (EMI) to create a 3D profile of a bin, showing pockets of moisture which can overheat and spoil. […] Read more

When you need great crop advice

Some tips on choosing the right person to help navigate the maze of new crop varieties and technologies

Reading Time: 5 minutes There was a time when growing crops was fairly straightforward. You planted in spring, sprayed in summer and harvested in fall. There weren’t all that many varieties to choose from. Chemical inputs were limited. The provincial guides to field crop protection were only a few pages long. Today, there are scores of registered varieties and […] Read more


Wheat plants growing as an experimental control group show signs of wheat stem rust disease at Kenya’s Eldoret University 
in 2013.

Heading off a stem rust pandemic

Only two older wheat varieties are resistant to Ug99, a devastating race of stem rust which threatens to spread around the world

Reading Time: 5 minutes Working under tight security in their plant science laboratory at Morden, Man., Tom Fetch and his scientific colleagues look as if they’re handling extremely hazardous material. After changing into hospital scrubs in a locker room, Fetch and his team deactivate an alarm system and go through four doors to enter the laboratory. The Level 3 […] Read more

The Western Grain Research Foundation has assisted in the development of more than 200 new varieties since 1981, but will no longer receive direct checkoff funding after July 31, 2017.

Checkoffs to become a checkerboard

The plan is for a single checkoff next August 1, but will different provincial recipients all go in the same research direction?

Reading Time: 5 minutes What a tangled web. That’s one way to describe the system of checkoffs to support cereal research in Western Canada. From a centralized system administered by a single agency, the plan has splintered into six separate checkoffs and five different producer-run wheat and barley commissions in three provinces. This patchwork will simplify a little on […] Read more


Forage breeding faces funding challenges

Government has cut back, private companies are not keen on crops that don’t need to be reseeded every year, and you can’t check off sales to farmers’ own livestock

Reading Time: 3 minutes Forages are Canada’s biggest crop but you wouldn’t know it because of the few resources that go into breeding them. You’d think that, given its size, forage would be a giant in the world of plant breeding. Unfortunately, it’s more of a midget. Canada has only four major publicly funded programs for breeding tame forages, […] Read more

Each waterhemp plant can produce one million seeds, with some producing up to five million.

Waterhemp knocking at Canada’s door

This cousin of the feared Palmer amaranth has reached the Canadian border, and could soon begin marching across the West

Reading Time: 4 minutes A new alien is lurking in the fields of North Dakota and Minnesota, preparing to invade Canada and cause no end of trouble. The potential enemy is a noxious weed called waterhemp, a member of the pigweed family and a cousin of Palmer amaranth, a glyphosate-resistant weed currently plaguing cotton and soybean growers in the […] Read more


A soybean field in Iowa.

Is Manitoba the new Iowa?

Moisture gives the top U.S. soybean-producing state a yield advantage, but also causes more disease problems

Reading Time: 2 minutes Is Manitoba the new Iowa? That was the official theme of one Manitoba Agronomists’ Conference as professionals considered the future of soybeans in the Keystone province. It is also the question that producers and industry officials are pondering now that soybeans in Manitoba are well over the million-acre mark. The doubling of soybean acres in […] Read more

“There are risks, but there are risks with growing any type of crop,” says Manitoba’s Pam de Rocquigny. 
“It’s up to each individual producer.”

Corn crops point their compass north

What do climate change and western corn share? “Plenty,” says Jeff Rubin

Reading Time: 5 minutes Jeff Rubin is former chief economist for CIBC World Markets, now a bestselling author, and he believes a warmer climate will result in a longer growing season and more heat units on the Canadian Prairies. This, he suggests, could turn the region into the new North American Corn Belt as production inevitably creeps northward. “The […] Read more