GFM Network News


A field on the Van Arkel farm being readied for next year’s Living Labs (AAFC) trials.

On-farm science

There’s undeniable value in collaborative on-farm research, with gains for both growers and researchers

Reading Time: 8 minutes Laurent “Woody” Van Arkel won’t deny it — he wants to know more about his soils, his crops and the interactions with fertilizers and manure and cover crops. And he tries hard to keep learning, working not only with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) but also with a master’s student […] Read more

The easiest fit in regenerative agriculture is for livestock graziers with no annual crops.

Where marketing meets agronomy

Is regenerative agriculture a feel-good slogan, or an honest-to-goodness scientific advance?

Reading Time: 7 minutes It has taken social media by storm, as well as all manner of other discussions about food and how we produce it. But, really, what is regenerative agriculture, and why has it become such a focal point? Skeptics may dismiss it as just another fad, something manufacturers and processors are promoting while filling web pages […] Read more


Small grains like rye are the focus of a pilot project to encourage growers to lengthen their rotations with cereals.

Building interest for small grain cereals

This new initiative hopes to grow demand for small grains by recognizing their environmental benefits

Reading Time: 5 minutes It’s everything growers could ask for. Imagine market demand that’s driven by acknowledging the healthfulness of the crops you grow and their environmental and sustainability benefits, plus a premium return on investment so you can afford to plant even more. How many times have growers wanted this kind of market pull in exchange for excellence […] Read more

Bayer launches carbon capture pilot for U.S., Brazilian farmers

Chem and seed firm expects to expand plan to other countries

Reading Time: 2 minutes Chicago | Reuters — Bayer launched a pilot program in the United States and Brazil on Tuesday that will pay farmers for capturing carbon in cropland soils, making it the latest agriculture company to capitalize on environmental initiatives. The company seeks to enroll about 1,200 row crop growers in its Bayer Carbon Initiative in the […] Read more


Cover crops can get as complex as you want but the best advice is always to start slow and simple.

New directions in cover crops

Today, factors like microbial interactions and soil quality are influencing choices and practices

Reading Time: 6 minutes In the midst of a renaissance in soil health, researchers, agronomists and extension personnel have been pushing the message that everything a grower does in a field is connected to everything else. Fertility is linked to planting depth, just as mycorrhizal fungi are connected to weed management. Nothing happens on its own without some effect […] 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


Researchers with AAFC say they are close to developing a perennial grain and forage rye.

Perennial cereal rye 2.0

After setbacks with an earlier program, Lethbridge researchers are making progress in developing a dual-purpose grain and forage rye

Reading Time: 5 minutes It sounds ideal like the ideal crop. It produces grain every year, has no annual seed and planting costs, provides excellent weed control and you can also use it for forage. Too good to be true? Maybe not. Efforts to develop perennial wheat continue their slow pace with commercialization pegged at around 15 years from […] Read more

A cereal rye cover crop established after corn silage in the fall of 2018.

Pest Patrol: Planning for cover crops

#PestPatrol with Mike Cowbrough, OMAFRA

Reading Time: 2 minutes Q: I want to plant cover crops after harvest. Should I be concerned about any herbicide residues that would make it harder to get them established? A: Two important factors influence the potential for herbicide carryover that could negatively affect establishment of a desired cover crop: The sensitivity of the cover crop to herbicide residues. […] Read more


“Soil is life,” says producer Blain Hjertaas. “Our job as farmers is to be stewards of that, and improve it as we use it.”

The building block of soil

Soil scientists are putting more focus on the value of organic matter for feeding important microbes and boosting moisture-managing capacity

Reading Time: 5 minutes Without it, soil is just dirt. There’s a new recognition of the importance of soil organic matter, and not only for improving crop yields. It’s also a tool in the effort to mitigate climate change. Blain Hjertaas, a holistic management farmer and grazier at Redvers, Sask., participates in the Soil Carbon Challenge, an international “competition” […] 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