GFM Network News


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

EU plans to halve pesticide use, expand organic farming

Reading Time: 2 minutes Brussels | Reuters — The European Commission said on Wednesday it planned to increase organic farming and cut agricultural chemical use to protect the environment, proposals welcomed by green groups but which farmers said would make them less flexible. Agriculture is a contributor to climate change – producing around 10 per cent of EU greenhouse […] Read more


Sheep indoors at Frain’s farm.

Salty business

Canada might hope climate change will force Europe to import more food. European farmers say we shouldn’t hold our breath

Reading Time: 5 minutes Here in Canada, we’re used to talking about the rise in extreme weather that comes with climate change, and we debate how it will affect crop and livestock production. In Europe, the debate has another twist. There, farmers are also worried about rising ocean levels. Why? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) […] Read more

Researcher Prem Pokharel found that wheat yield was higher in soil with added biochar made from manure and wood chips rather than from the untreated products.

Harnessing the power of the rhizosphere

Biochar — heat-treated organic material — can give the root zone a boost

Reading Time: 3 minutes Have you ever noticed how lush the crabgrass can get around an old firepit? It’s a small yet compelling example of the benefit that burnt wood residue can have on plant growth. But there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye in that interchange between plant, charcoal, soil and air, and Prem Pokharel […] Read more


New Hampshire farmers Dorn and Sarah Cox.

The open source farmer

For Dorn and Sarah Cox, building an ag internet will bring the power back in farmer’s hands

Reading Time: 7 minutes About 10 years ago, New Hampshire farmer Dorn Cox was thinking how agriculture will need new ways of tackling such huge challenges as climate change, biodiversity loss and depleted agricultural soils. In the past, the collaborative approach had always saved agriculture. Farmers have pooled their ideas, shared their results and found big solutions much faster […] Read more

“I believe we can reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides by bio-based fertilizers and pesticides.” – Dr. Ze-Chun Yuan, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The next green revolution

In this Ontario lab, bacteria are working to drive nutrient uptake and accelerate crop growth

Reading Time: 4 minutes Scientists are delving deeper into the soil in hope of finding that next innovation to boost yields while enhancing soil health and reducing pollution concerns. And it seems they’re onto something. Or, better yet, some things. In particular, a scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has looked inside decomposing corn roots in southern Ontario […] Read more


A researcher and soon-to-be author wanted to know what’s getting in the way of healthier soil. What she heard from farmers, industry and academia is it’s not a lack of technology but a lack of political will and financial support.

Where Ontario’s soil health strategy falls short

Farmers understand the crucial role of soil health for feeding the world. So why is it such a struggle to get support for that goal?

Reading Time: 6 minutes Last fall, Dr. Sarah Rotz, then working at the University of Guelph, wrote an article with Guelph crop scientist Dr. Ralph Martin and York University agri-food policy researcher Dr. Rod MacRae to draw attention to what they perceive as shortcomings in the Ontario government’s Soil Health Strategy. It’s a topic Rotz had been studying for […] Read more

In Quebec, a healthy agriculture is the cornerstone of its rural sustainability policy, and a big part of the reason it will spend an extra $15 billion on farms and related businesses by 2025.

Different in Quebec

History makes Quebec unique. But it takes more than history to account for its approach to ag policy and why that approach is being studied by farmers across the country and around the world

Reading Time: 9 minutes For centuries, agriculture has been a major contributor to the economic engine of Quebec and to the vitality of its rural regions. In 2016, the GDP of Quebec’s bio-food industry was 7.4 per cent, totalled $23.4 billion, and created 12 per cent of jobs in the province. From 2013 to 2016, the GDP of the […] Read more


“I want farmers to better understand the land they’re working, that’s their baseline,” Angela Bedard-Haughn says. “To manage soils effectively, you have to understand them.”

The power of knowing your soil

Much of Saskatchewan’s soil has been studied at least once over the decades. A WGRF-sponsored project puts all the results in one location available to everyone

Reading Time: 4 minutes Have you ever wondered why crops don’t seem to do well on a certain bit of land and it’s not always obvious why? Angela Bedard-Haughn is here to help you figure that out. The professor of soil science in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan is leading the Saskatchewan Soil […] Read more

Tillage is the number one soil-degrading process, says one University of Manitoba professor.

Tillage erosion costing farmers billions

The pressure to get an early start on newer crops such as corn and soybeans encourages tillage practices which may not be sustainable

Reading Time: 5 minutes This past spring was one of the worst on record for so-called “snirt,” or dirty snow, in ditches across the Prairies — a sign that wind is moving loose topsoil to the margins of fields. While snirt is an indication that fields are susceptible to wind erosion, however, University of Manitoba soil science professor David […] Read more