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

“Soil is life,” says producer Blain Hjertaas. “Our job as farmers is to be stewards of that, and improve it as we use it.”

The building block of soil

Soil scientists are putting more focus on the value of organic matter for feeding important microbes and boosting moisture-managing capacity

Without it, soil is just dirt. There’s a new recognition of the importance of soil organic matter, and not only for improving crop yields. It’s also a tool in the effort to mitigate climate change. Blain Hjertaas, a holistic management farmer and grazier at Redvers, Sask., participates in the Soil Carbon Challenge, an international “competition” […] Read more


Using an RG 1300 C allows a grower to apply urea while seeding a cover crop into standing corn.

New from old

Adapting old machines to precision ag is possible after all

When it comes to reusing, recycling or refashioning, farmers have always been the best. But mention “precision ag” and the feeling is that everything has to be expensive and brand shining new. Seldom does it seem possible to take something that’s already on the farm and rework it into something to use today. What if […] Read more

The Wintex 2000 is popular in Western Canada but is now being replaced by Wintex 3000 units.

Advanced soil sampling

It’s time to get excited about soil testing again… seriously!

In many ways, a soil test represents an aspect of farming that is necessary yet unfairly and inaccurately viewed with about as much anticipation as filing an income tax return. Despite the fact that soil tests provide invaluable information and a potential road map for adding value to future crop plans, there isn’t an overall […] Read more


Farming Smarter deep banded immobile nutrients at a depth of six inches using a seed drill with a basic stealth opener system.

Research digs into the question of deep banding

The practice could make immobile nutrients more available for three major crops

The jury is still out on whether deep banding fertilizer is worth the time and money — but researchers across Alberta are hoping to settle the debate once and for all. “I don’t think there’s any proof yet that deep banding works,” said Ken Coles, general manager of Farming Smarter. “We want to have some […] Read more

McCain’s one-year multi-species blend contains 13 species, including spring oats, balansa clover, Austrian winter peas and sunflower.

2 covers — 25 species

P.E.I. potato growers are exploring diverse approaches to solve their low organic matter levels with cover crops

Soil organic matter has become a popular topic of discussion in the past year. In Ontario, a report from late 2016 indicated soil organic matter (SOM) levels in many parts of the province are at 15-year lows, coinciding with increasing interest in the use of cover crops, reduced- or no-till management and longer rotations in […] Read more


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 […] Read more

Growers who are considering multi-species cover crops should determine their specific goals: Is it to scavenge nutrients, help cycle them from subsoil or store them for future use?

Is it time you get started with a cover crop?

Cover crops may not be as simple as we used to think. But they aren’t that complex either

The funny thing about implementing change is that it’s possible to over-think a situation and become mired in the process of simply getting started. A person becomes so concerned with the challenges of the “how” that they begin to lose sight of the value of the “why.” In other words, getting started can be the […] Read more


More than the cost of herbicide, growers need to consider how the cost of yield losses will affect future cropping plans.

Rotation refresher

More than crops, more than herbicides, it comes down to planning for success — with everything

The past two to three years have seen some encouraging signs of change for the better across Eastern Canada. Commodity prices are cyclically low yet corn, soybean and wheat yields have been trending upwards. There’s renewed interest in cover crops, and more growers have a renewed appreciation for soil health too, including a keener sense […] Read more

Students work at seeding the lysimeters by hand at the Elora Research Station.

The crop rotation effect

At last, scientists hope to explain exactly why rotations are such a good practice

It’s one thing to know the benefits of a practice, it’s another to understand the “why,” especially when it comes to biological functions where the road to understanding can be anything but simple. In cropping terms, science has known about the benefits of longer rotations for years, but not about the exact reasons why. This […] Read more