GFM Network News


“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

Figure 1. An overhead look at the level of control that cereal rye has provided when it was seeded the previous fall (mid- November) at 60 lbs./ac. (left) compared to no cereal rye planted (right).

PHOTOS: Pest Patrol: Cover crops versus glyphosate-resistant weeds

#PestPatrol with Mike Cowbrough, OMAFRA

Reading Time: 1 minute Q: Can cover crops be an effective tool to manage glyphosate-resistant weeds? A: My colleague Dr. Clarence Swanton (University of Guelph) used to say that based on research he did in the 1980s, one should not expect to control weeds with cover crops. Their utility was in preventing soil erosion and improving soil health but […] 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!

Reading Time: 6 minutes 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

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

Reading Time: 6 minutes 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