GFM Network News


What’s happening below the soil has a greater impact on crop performance and yield.

Dig deeper to understand soils

Challenging what we’ve always thought can be enlightening, not disruptive

Reading Time: 7 minutes Traditions and routines can provide stability, familiarity and perhaps a sense of purpose. Yet when they keep us from exploring new possibilities — for whatever reason — there’s less room for meaningful change. Earlier in 2020, Greg Patterson was a presenter at the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA)-Ontario chapter annual meeting in London, Ont., and created […] Read more

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


The traditional choice for cover crops has been red clover underseeded to winter wheat, but that’s changing.

Re-setting the mind-set on cover crops

Research is shining new light on when — and why — to make cover crops part of your routine field management

Reading Time: 8 minutes Much of what is known about specific practices in agriculture has been constructed then modified and sometimes deconstructed altogether. It’s an ongoing process that applies to virtually every cropping practice, from the use of moldboard plows to no till and from planting depth to fertility rates. Cover crops have been studied extensively across many parts […] 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


Farmers’ friends: bugs, birds and worms can eat weed seeds before they get a chance to germinate.

Weed control with small critters

Insects, birds and worms are a free – and resistance-free – method of controlling weeds before they get a chance to germinate

Reading Time: 4 minutes The dominance of zero- or minimum-tillage practices on the Prairies means lots of weed seeds are left on the soil after harvest, but it turns out that there’s help available to stop them from germinating next spring, and you don’t have to buy it at your local chemical dealer. “Lowering the deposits into the weed […] Read more

The CurseBuster side-fractures the soil leaving it relatively undisturbed, even with a cover crop on top.

A change in equipment vs. a change in mindset

Refocusing attention on soil health is the driver behind newer technologies

Reading Time: 4 minutes A number of years ago, Carl Brubacher looked at his soils and realized something had to change. He’d been relying on a full complement of tillage passes and he could sense his topsoil levels were becoming shallower. What he wanted was to find a way to avoid falling into the trap the U.S. has experienced, […] Read more


Drought stress symptoms in corn leaves where no soil-applied herbicides had been applied and weed control was done with a late post-emergence application.

Pest Patrol: Don’t be cheap with weed control

#PestPatrol with Mike Cowbrough, OMAFRA

Reading Time: 3 minutes “Weed control is an investment into the current and future crops on every field.” The above quote was parting advice from Norfolk and Oxford County farmer Ann Vermeersch at the 2019 FarmSmart Conference in Guelph. In front of 80 farmers and agronomists, I moderated a session with Vermeersch and Steph Kowalski, a certified crop advisor […] 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


“Snirt” was a common sight in Manitoba soybean fields last winter.

Avoiding another year of ‘snirt’

North Dakota farmers and researchers are finding success in controlling soybean field erosion by planting cover crops

Reading Time: 5 minutes “Snirt” became a buzzword in Prairie agricultural journalism in 2017 and 2018, and for good reason: the dirty snow lining ditches along highways was a telling indicator that there had been a soybean field there last season. It’s a problem across the Red River Valley region in particular, where soybean producers are used to tilling […] Read more

Despite several years of successful winter grazing, Mike Buis has a Plan B of also baling a cover crop blend to have in reserve if weather doesn’t co-operate.

Another cover crop bonus – winter grazing

This Ontario producer lets the cows do the work, meaning benefits for both him and his crop-growing neighbour

Reading Time: 5 minutes Cover crops have caught on like wildfire for corn producers in the U.S. and Eastern Canada, mainly because of their benefits for soil health. But some producers have found another bonus — a source of feed for grazing cattle. Mike Buis has been doing it for about 15 years, seeing the overall benefits in animal […] Read more