GFM Network News


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


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

Reading Time: 6 minutes 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

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

Reading Time: 7 minutes 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


Brothers Rob, Derek and Rick Kootstra aim to plant cover crops on every acre, every year.

Real sustainability

Integrating the benefits of his Ontario Soil Network membership into how he farms is helping Rick Kootstra find real sustainability

Reading Time: 5 minutes Like a lot of farmers, Rick Kootstra doesn’t see himself as an innovator or a leader. He just goes about his business. Thanks to the Ontario Soil Network, though, he does it with a lot of great connections with farmers who share similar goals and aspirations. Kootstra, along with his brothers Rob and Derek, works […] Read more

The cover crop plot with the most complex blend of different species, including planting dates, method and rates.

PHOTOS: Farm Show demo digs deep on value of soil health

Roots, worm casts and different cover blends show amazing effects

Reading Time: < 1 minute Soil health has been a buzz phrase that’s gone from a whisper three to five years ago to a chorus that’s spreading across the agrifood industry. That goes to show the swinging of the pendulum away from plowing and aggressive tillage — and it seems to be gaining more advocates with each passing day. This […] Read more


The forage value of cover crops

The forage value of cover crops

Western research shows cover crops can be worth their weight for grazing or even baling

Reading Time: 6 minutes Extended drought has forced many farmers across Eastern Canada to seek alternate feed sources for the coming winter. It’s even got some producers thinking about the cover crops on their farm and on neighbouring farms. The growing popularity of cover crops among grain farmers may have come at just the right time for cattle farmers […] Read more

Figure 1.

Pest Patrol: Farmers are reducing weed seed return after cereal harvest

#PestPatrol with Mike Cowbrough, OMAFRA

Reading Time: 3 minutes I was driving down a long country road and noticed two large fields where winter wheat had been harvested almost eight weeks earlier. Each had a beautiful thick canopy of oats. Figure 1 (at top). An oat cover crop planted almost eight weeks ago following winter wheat harvest. That same day, when I came across […] Read more