GFM Network News


Short rotations are partly to blame for the emergence of clubroot, which can reduce canola yield to zero.

Putting a value on crop diversity

Economists and agronomists are getting together to compare the benefits of short and long rotations

Reading Time: 3 minutes Have you ever stared at your crop plan and wished that it didn’t rely so heavily on canola? Or wheat? Or peas? Or any crop that is too often called on for cash flow at the expense of proper rotation? Agronomists have been beating the drum of crop diversity for years and farmers understand that […] 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


Western Canada’s “King wheat” acreage is now equalled by the former “Cinderella crop” of canola, but that’s at the expense of the recommended frequency in rotation.

Taking a long-term look at agronomy for canola

Researchers say canola’s environmental footprint has improved but a new agronomic struggle is on the horizon

Reading Time: 4 minutes Canola-based rotation systems can improve long-term sustainability by using less energy and storing carbon below the ground, but keeping them going on top is proving to be a challenge. A study by Saskatchewan Research Council’s Susan MacWilliam, along with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Reynald Lemke and others, compared the impact of changing management […] Read more

Treatments included three yield zones and four N fertilizer rates — 0, 50, 100 and 150 per cent N based on soil test.

Zone-by-zone nitrogen application may not pay

A three-year study finds surprisingly little response to extra nitrogen in both high- and low-producing areas

Reading Time: 3 minutes A new Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada study suggests producers should take soil test nitrogen prescriptions by management zone with a grain of salt. They don’t necessarily reflect what researcher Alan Moulin calls the “supplying power” of the soil, and since fields vary, there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription to meet crop nutrient demands. This doesn’t mean producers […] 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

Covering roughly 10 hectares, the study included plots set out in a split-split format, meaning large plots were divided into smaller plots, with even smaller plots within those.

Farm like Scrooge

A long-term study suggests that penny-pinching can actually help the bottom line

Reading Time: 4 minutes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Bruce Gossen says the 18-year study was boring, but its results weren’t. Gossen and his colleagues took a long-term look at the effects of cropping diversity and inputs at Scott, Sask., from 1996 to 2013, but they didn’t just evaluate yields. They also looked at disease, insect and weed […] 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

Miles Dyck studied sulphur deficiency at the Breton Plots, a long-term crop rotation research site established in 1930.

Nutrient balance key to avoiding sulphur deficient soils

Production of more high-sulphur demand crops such as pulses and canola is creating a shortage in some fields

Reading Time: 4 minutes In order for any crop to use fertilizer efficiently, it needs to have all of its nutrient deficiencies met, says Miles Dyck, an associate professor of soil science in the department of renewable resources at the University of Alberta. The most common nutrient deficiencies in Western Canada are nitrogen and phosphorus, but because of the […] 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

More than the cost of herbicide, growers need to consider how the cost of yield losses will affect future cropping plans.

Rotation refresher

More than crops, more than herbicides, it comes down to planning for success — with everything

Reading Time: 7 minutes The past two to three years have seen some encouraging signs of change for the better across Eastern Canada. Commodity prices are cyclically low yet corn, soybean and wheat yields have been trending upwards. There’s renewed interest in cover crops, and more growers have a renewed appreciation for soil health too, including a keener sense […] Read more