GFM Network News

So history repeats itself

Reading Time: 7 minutes Consider for a moment what Canadian agriculture would look like today if farmers had never made the switch from horse power to tractor power. It isn’t such an absurd idea if you understand why farmers here actually resisted mechanization when it first appeared roughly a century ago. An interesting read is the text of the […] Read more

Young farmers talk about their future

We find out what these university students are thinking as they prepare to head home to the farm. They know their opportunities are great, but their challenges are humbling too

Reading Time: 9 minutes A gaggle in ball caps, T-shirts, jeans and flannel politely stumbled off the bus. They’re third-year students in the University of McGill’s farm management and technology program, and they were on a tour of Ontario farms. They stopped at mine to discuss business structure, succession and the future of agriculture. On closer look and listen, […] Read more

Haridenyat Gill is investing C$100,000 in a modern greenhouse to produce organic vegetables. He admits that it is hard to wean himself from the highly subsidized wheat and rice production.

The slow death of the Green Revolution

Even as the negative impacts of the great Green Revolution pile up, there is hope

Reading Time: 7 minutes It saved one billion people from starvation. It won a Nobel peace prize for its founder, and it transformed India, all by discovering new varieties of high-yield rice and wheat, and new ways of growing them. Yet today, 50 years later, the Green Revolution is sputtering. Those high-yield crops have touched off ecological disasters, and […] Read more

Spiny annual sow thistle is now the No. 6 weed, up a full 28 spots from the last survey.

Why weed surveys matter

Regular inventories across the Prairies provide a valuable indication of emerging problems

Reading Time: 4 minutes Every decade or so since the mid-1970s, scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), with the help of many others, have co-ordinated and compiled weed surveys in each of the three Prairie provinces, counting, mapping, noting changes and marking trends. The most recent survey was conducted in 2014 and 2015 in Saskatchewan, with financial assistance […] Read more

The beef industry has been shown to be reducing its carbon footprint, but Tim McAllister says more needs to be done.

Beef industry challenged to do better

Reading Time: 4 minutes It’s no secret the beef industry is under attack from environmentalists and activists — or that they frequently distort the truth. “They have an agenda that they are trying to gain information to support — they’re looking for things that have gone awry in the industry, and there have been problems,” renowned Alberta cattle researcher […] Read more

I’m not saying you can’t be sustainable without perennials, because somebody somewhere will prove us wrong, but it will be easier if you have perennials in the system.” – Mario Tenuta

Foraging for better soils

If you aren’t growing forages, can you really say you’re farming sustainably?

Reading Time: 4 minutes The soil has its own perspective, says soil scientist Mario Tenuta, which explains why in Western Canada, where intensive farming has “only” been going on for 100 years, our soils are actually still young. “Our soils are not mature, compared to places like Europe or Africa,” Tenuta says. Over the last 50 years of farming, […] Read more

The Canadian Field Print Calculator allows farmers to input information on practices related to land use efficiency, soil erosion risk, energy use, climate impact and soil carbon release.

The ‘sustainable’ agriculture advantage

Staking out the high ground in this debate could be good not just for the soil, but for bank accounts too

Reading Time: 4 minutes Is “sustainability” just another buzzword, or will it have a genuine impact on how farmers in Western Canada do business? Denis Trémorin, director for sustainability at Pulse Canada, believes there is substance behind “sustainability”— but it might not mean exactly what you think it means. Trémorin says sustainability is about operating in a socially, economically […] Read more

Studies in three Prairie provinces used covers to block rainfall and simulate various levels of drought.

Stocking rates key to climate change adjustment

Low defoliation rates and leaving lots of litter are best for coping with weather variations from year to year

Reading Time: 4 minutes Fast and hard? Slow and easy? And how many animals per acre? Stocking and defoliation rates are a complex and even controversial issue, and depend a lot on the weather. Climate change could make them even more complex. To get a better idea on how producers should respond, Edward Bork and a team from the […] Read more

In many grasslands, including those of Western Canada, moderate grazing actually boosts overall plant diversity.

Making hay of environmental goods and services

Researchers wrestle with turning an abstract concept into concrete profits for producers

Reading Time: 5 minutes If you were to ask most cattle producers about the goods and services their grasslands provide, it might seem like an obvious question. Most would say that quality forage promotes the health of their cattle, provides high-quality protein and boosts their bottom line. Others might talk about how their grazing practices promote biodiversity and overall […] Read more

Rather than apologizing for bringing biotech developments to farmers, most farmers and scientists point to societal benefits like the sustainable, dependable production of high-quality, affordable food.

After twenty years has biotechnology really lived up to its promise?

The benefits of biotechnology have been undeniable to farmers, in spite of challenges from resistance

Reading Time: 6 minutes Farmers were practically guaranteed that we were entering a whole new era in agri-food production. Because of something called transgenics, we were going to have higher yields, lower costs, and all sorts of unimagineable farm efficiencies, not to mention that, thanks to this technology, we’d be able to feed the world. But 20 years later, […] Read more