GFM Network News


Jennifer and Michael Doelman grew this crop of canola and 4010-type forage peas on their farm at Renfrew, Ontario. They will “absolutely” try the crop again in 2020.

Two farmers make the case for pea-canola intercropping

Growing two crops in the same field sounds like it could be difficult, but these two farmers have figured it out and say the result is higher profit

Reading Time: 9 minutes Intercropping is an ancient farming practice. Farmers in Meso-america thousands of years ago started growing “the three sisters” — corn, beans and squash — together in the same fields, letting the symbiotic nature of their biologies provide an overall better result than growing them separately. Strong cornstalks provided a “pole” for the climbing beans. Beans […] Read more

Bob Bartley checks on his canola stand establishment in early June 2019.

Getting to higher canola emergence

With consistent depth, placement into warm, moist soils, and good competition against weeds, your canola fields can turn a higher percentage of seeds into mature, high-yielding plants

Reading Time: 7 minutes Bob and Shelley Bartley raised some eyebrows when Shelley shared photos of their seeding tool on Twitter. The farmers from Roland, Man., seed with a 35-year-old John Deere hoe box drill attached to a new John Deere cart. “I bought that John Deere 9450 hoe drill for $17,000 way back when,” Bob Bartley says. “We […] Read more


A new approach to phosphorus applications

With variable-rate application at soil-building rates, Scott Keller’s investment in phosphate fertility is paying dividends in higher yields, improved nutrient use efficiency and fewer days to maturity

Reading Time: 5 minutes Scott Keller didn’t fully appreciate the benefit of phosphorus fertilizer until he ran out a few times at seeding. If the drill tank petered out of prills part-way along a pass, he’d continue to the end of the field before filling up. It was phosphorus after all, not nitrogen. “But these missed strips stood out […] Read more

The long-term strategy for P management relies on building, maintaining or depleting soil P, based on soil test P concentration. Medium (M) would be around 15 ppm. High (H) would be around 30 ppm. Source: “4R Management of Phosphorus Fertilizer in the Northern Great Plains: A Review of the Scientific Literature,” by Cindy Grant and Don Flaten.

Phosphorus 101: The basic BMPs

Here are the basic best management practices for phosphorus fertilizer

Reading Time: 3 minutes Soil tests The Olsen (bicarb) test is effective across a wide range of soils, including the high pH calcareous soils common in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, while the Bray test is effective only in neutral to lower pH non-calcareous soils, as are found in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Kelowna and modified Kelowna tests are also […] 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

“A seeding rate that targets five to eight plants per square foot is like yield insurance,” says Autumn Barnes with the Canola Council of Canada.

What’s the best seeding rate for canola?

The optimal rate balances seed cost, in-season management costs and yield potential. Here's how farmers can set the ideal seeding rate for each field

Reading Time: 6 minutes If you want the ideal, uniform, early-established canola stand of five to eight plants per square foot, don’t rely on a scale. “When it comes to setting a seeding rate to achieve that stand, the common five pounds per acre is not precise enough,” says Autumn Barnes, agronomy specialist and stand establishment lead for the […] Read more


Canola Council resets course for ‘efficiencies’

Reading Time: 3 minutes Facing new limits on available funding, Canada’s canola value chain organization plans to refocus its work on its “core strengths” and collaborate with other players. The Canola Council of Canada on Wednesday announced a revised work plan, coming out of a “priorities review” undertaken after one of Canada’s biggest grain companies called a halt to […] Read more

James Oberhofer took this picture at noon on August 15, 2018. With the smoke-dimmed sun, lights were essential in the yards and fields and on the highway.

Canola growth stalled under a shroud of smoke

Alberta canola farmers dealing with another late harvest in 2018 estimate that smoky skies in August delayed their crop by at least 10 days. Is that possible?

Reading Time: 5 minutes It was an eerie orange noon on August 15 and James Oberhofer needed to turn his truck lights on. When the agronomist for Six Strong Agronomy tried to scout under a canola field canopy, he saw only darkness. Things were in a stunning standstill as Alberta suffered the worst day in what had been a […] Read more


Soil pH is often highly variable within fields, as demonstrated in this map of a single central Alberta field. The range is from red (pH of 4-4.5) to dark lime green (pH of 7.5-8). That is why grid sampling is an important step in lime application.

If you have low soil pH, should you lime?

It can take tonnes of lime per acre to move soil pH from 5 to 7, but improved fertilizer availability for all crops, better nodulation for pulse crops and alfalfa, and reduced risk from clubroot in canola can make the investment worthwhile

Reading Time: 5 minutes “Finally.” That word got special emphasis when Doug Penney was asked about liming. “It has become a hot topic… finally.” Penney, a long-serving Alberta Agriculture fertility specialist and now semi-retired crop consultant, says many fields in Western Canada — especially in Alberta — probably would have benefited from lime a long time ago. Fields most […] Read more

Flax Council of Canada joins up with Canola Council

Reading Time: 2 minutes Winnipeg | CNS Canada – The Flax Council of Canada has announced a new operating structure; restructuring its board and joining forces with the Canola Council of Canada. The move comes six months after the council shuttered its Winnipeg office and reduced its services. “It’s clear that Canadian flax has tremendous potential, both on the […] Read more