GFM Network News


Researchers are assessing the benefits of crops seeded into potato hills, similar to this nurse crop in carrots.

Call in a nurse. A “nurse” crop that is

A second crop planted along with potatoes protects the soil and boosts yields

Reading Time: 3 minutes Recent years have seen increased attention on the health of the soil used in potato production, and attempts to bring potatoes into longer rotations with other crops. In the Maritimes, seed companies are promoting soybeans or corn as rotational options and McCain has developed one- and two-year multi-species cover crop blends to help boost organic […] Read more

Dallas Timmerman uses a Leon scraper to put topsoil back on his eroded and degraded hilltops. He also adds manure. These measures don’t take a lot of time and have led to a large yield increase on those acres.

Timmerman trains the Tiger Hills of Treherne

A Manitoba farmer has seen major yield improvement by recapping his hills with topsoil from his lower land

Reading Time: 5 minutes Dallas Timmerman farms in the Tiger Hills around Treherne, Man., and sometimes those tigers need training. “We have a lot of hills and sometimes you need to be aggressive with them,” he says. Timmerman’s chair and whip are a Leon scraper and Versatile 4WD. He started training his hills over a decade ago, working on […] Read more


“I believe we can reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides by bio-based fertilizers and pesticides.” – Dr. Ze-Chun Yuan, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The next green revolution

In this Ontario lab, bacteria are working to drive nutrient uptake and accelerate crop growth

Reading Time: 4 minutes Scientists are delving deeper into the soil in hope of finding that next innovation to boost yields while enhancing soil health and reducing pollution concerns. And it seems they’re onto something. Or, better yet, some things. In particular, a scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has looked inside decomposing corn roots in southern Ontario […] Read more

Short rotations are partly to blame for the emergence of clubroot, which can reduce canola yield to zero.

Putting a value on crop diversity

Economists and agronomists are getting together to compare the benefits of short and long rotations

Reading Time: 3 minutes Have you ever stared at your crop plan and wished that it didn’t rely so heavily on canola? Or wheat? Or peas? Or any crop that is too often called on for cash flow at the expense of proper rotation? Agronomists have been beating the drum of crop diversity for years and farmers understand that […] Read more


An NDVI image of a corn crop that indicates side-dress nitrogen effects on corn maturity.

Field imagery much more just a pretty picture

Overhead imagery can transform how you farm, but it’s essential to choose the right technology — and commit to it

Reading Time: 8 minutes Precision agriculture has had a rough go since it was first conceptualized in the mid-1990s with the advent of the yield monitor. At that point, “variable rate” became part of agriculture’s vocabulary, followed by zone mapping, aerial imagery and a growing list of technologies now available to growers. Yet there’s still reluctance to rely too […] Read more

A clover cover crop stretches upward from the stubble.

Finding the value of cover crops for Western Canada

Cover crops are now standard practice farther south in the U.S., but do they have the same results on the shorter-season Prairies?

Reading Time: 3 minutes When Yvonne Lawley wrote her research proposal for a study of cover crops, she was specific about the wording of the title: Testing the cover crop hypothesis across Prairie Canada. It’s the word “hypothesis” that grabs you. What could be theoretical about cover crops? Some farmers have been using them for decades to help build […] Read more


Cattle are an important part of the rotation on Agripastos Farm.

Conservation tillage driving Brazil’s corn and soybean explosion

No-till farm group says no-till is the key to long-term sustainable agriculture

Reading Time: 4 minutes Crop production in Brazil has made dramatic gains in recent decades — and there’s potential for plenty more, say advocates of no till and conservation tillage in the country. In fact, members of the Brazilian Federation of No-Till Farming say no till is the key to achieving a long-term sustainable agriculture without additional deforestation. Soybean […] 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


“You can only grow so many bushels of corn in a stressed year and that number depends largely on your soil.”

What’s good about soil?

Soil health indicators often relate to properties that you can’t see

Reading Time: 6 minutes We’re planting more cover crops, we’ve got a heightened focus on soil organic matter levels, and now we’re adopting what’s thought to be a relatively new term: soil health indicators. They’re each part of a wave that’s been building, reflecting a renewed interest in the soil as the basis for all crop production. “It’s been […] Read more

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