GFM Network News


Jennifer and Michael Doelman grew this crop of canola and 4010-type forage peas on their farm at Renfrew, Ontario. They will “absolutely” try the crop again in 2020.

Two farmers make the case for pea-canola intercropping

Growing two crops in the same field sounds like it could be difficult, but these two farmers have figured it out and say the result is higher profit

Reading Time: 9 minutes Intercropping is an ancient farming practice. Farmers in Meso-america thousands of years ago started growing “the three sisters” — corn, beans and squash — together in the same fields, letting the symbiotic nature of their biologies provide an overall better result than growing them separately. Strong cornstalks provided a “pole” for the climbing beans. Beans […] Read more

“Put two crops together, and you have less disease overall and the oilseed crop is able to take advantage of the pulse benefits in that year…”

Two research projects looking at intercrops

Western Ag Innovations run intercrop trials in southern Alberta

Reading Time: 4 minutes Eric Bremer is leading a research project on intercropping in the Lethbridge area. Bremer was involved in intercropping research as a grad student back in the 1980s and jumped at the opportunity to look at it again with the support of Western Ag Innovations owner Ken Greer and a research grant from Alberta Pulse Growers […] 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

I’m using my family farmer instinct to see what is worth pursuing,” explains research manager Lana Shaw.

Crowd research

Is this crowdfunded program a sign of the way farmers will have to go to get the research that governments are slow to pay for?

Reading Time: 5 minutes It was a cold, mid-April morning near Redvers in the south-east corner of a decidedly un-spring-like Saskatchewan, and the flat fields all around us were still blanketed in white. Between the snow and the clouds, you could hardly tell where the sky ended and the earth began. I had arranged to meet research manager Lana […] Read more


Is there a tipping point on intercropping?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Farmers’ current interest in intercropping has caught some off guard. On November 29, 2017, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture ran an intercropping workshop in Regina. Workshop organizers expected about 40 people. But 140 people showed up, including several from Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan. Sask Ag ran a second intercropping workshop in January, and another 200 […] Read more

Unfortunately for farmers, ag research doesn’t rank as high with government funders as items such as health care.

The funding crunch in agricultural research

Reading Time: 2 minutes Why are Lana Shaw and her colleagues having trouble securing funding for intercropping research? For one thing, funding is generally tight in public ag research. The South East Research Farm receives $75,000 a year for core operations, as do the other research sites in the Agri-ARM network. On top of that, surrounding municipalities have kicked […] Read more


Four ways to increase your organic matter

A question that I hear a lot is, “How do cover crops fit into a grain operation?” Lots of grain farmers have no desire to get into the livestock business and no interest in producing hay. But many have some soil issues that need to be addressed. This can be done by buying more iron[...]
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The pea vines can support the canola and make it easier to harvest.

Peaola continues to show promise

On their own, the peas and canola may only produce 60 per cent of normal, but that still adds up to a 120 per cent yield

Reading Time: 5 minutes Intercropping sometimes gets a bad rap from producers. For one thing, crop insurance often doesn’t cover intercropped mixtures, so if one or both crops fail, they’re out of luck. For another, yield benefits don’t always outweigh the extra legwork required at planting and harvest. But the promise of intercropping is that some crops can be[...]
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