GFM Network News


Efforts to improve soil health are set back by long-standing and destructive soil management regimens.

Real work on soil health needs to be done

Fine speeches about our soil make us all feel good, but there's an increasing urgency for wider adoption

Reading Time: 5 minutes Soil health has received considerable attention in recent decades. There have been many champions who have promoted the benefits of good soil, farm organizations that have mounted campaigns to encourage its development and even Senate committees trying to help government recognize the urgency surrounding it. Yet reluctance to raise the bar on the subject remains. […] Read more

Investment model offers opportunity for farm expansion

Could Joelle Faulkner’s partnership concept work on your farm?

Reading Time: 9 minutes It’s a common scenario: Farmer Bill has been renting land from his neighbour for years but the time has come and he is ready to sell. He wants Bill to have first refusal on the land, but Bill has just financed a new barn and bought a new combine, so he’s too over-extended to raise […] Read more


Berith and Bernd Klänhammer see a bright farming future for son Jonas, but in today’s Germany, their land-buying days may be over.

The German question

Now that they’ve recovered from communism, these East German farms worry about the excesses of democracy

Reading Time: 9 minutes The fall of the iron curtain in l989 brought democracy to the former East Germany (DDR). For farmers like Bernd Klänhammer at Penkun, an hour and a half northeast of Berlin, it also brought, for the first time in their careers, the freedom to make their own decisions. Of course, Klänhammer wasn’t the only one […] Read more

“You can only grow so many bushels of corn in a stressed year and that number depends largely on your soil.”

What’s good about soil?

Soil health indicators often relate to properties that you can’t see

Reading Time: 6 minutes We’re planting more cover crops, we’ve got a heightened focus on soil organic matter levels, and now we’re adopting what’s thought to be a relatively new term: soil health indicators. They’re each part of a wave that’s been building, reflecting a renewed interest in the soil as the basis for all crop production. “It’s been […] Read more


The CurseBuster side-fractures the soil leaving it relatively undisturbed, even with a cover crop on top.

A change in equipment vs. a change in mindset

Refocusing attention on soil health is the driver behind newer technologies

Reading Time: 4 minutes A number of years ago, Carl Brubacher looked at his soils and realized something had to change. He’d been relying on a full complement of tillage passes and he could sense his topsoil levels were becoming shallower. What he wanted was to find a way to avoid falling into the trap the U.S. has experienced, […] Read more

Adam Hayes, soil specialist with OMAFRA, has worked with growers from Renfrew County assessing various soil health traits.

Better soil numbers

This project in Renfrew and Stormont may set the pattern for soil research across the country

Reading Time: 7 minutes In the chase for improvements in soil health, there have been many contributions from individuals and organizations that have enticed others to adopt new practices and work toward positive change on their farms. Of course, there have been challenges too, including those coming from the sheer diversity of farms and producers and the individual’s comfort […] Read more


Ian McNichol (left) and Dwight Odelein (right) pose at the edge of Grid 640.

Drowning in rain

How do you shed water in wet years yet conserve water in dry? Farmers in this small Saskatchewan watershed wrestle with the kinds of issues that may soon engulf the country

Reading Time: 11 minutes In the farmyard that once belonged to Nick Schmidt, lake water now laps towards his grain bins, outbuildings and corrals. A vintage car sits in water nearly up to its bumper. Looking at the scene, Dwight Odelein, a local farmer and nephew of Schmidt, recalls that 20 years ago, the water was five or six […] Read more

Cupping of soybean leaves is a clearly visible symptom of off-target movement of dicamba that resulted from inversion.

Soybeans, dicamba and you

New challenges are arising with new herbicide-resistant technologies and product blends

Reading Time: 4 minutes When new transgenic and herbicide-tolerant technologies arrive, they come with learning curves, some steeper than others. For Bt corn hybrids, for example, the curve was relatively flat, even if there had to be some serious thinking that about refuge planting. And in glyphosate- and glufosinate-tolerant soybean varieties, there may have been initial concerns about having […] Read more


Despite several years of successful winter grazing, Mike Buis has a Plan B of also baling a cover crop blend to have in reserve if weather doesn’t co-operate.

Another cover crop bonus – winter grazing

This Ontario producer lets the cows do the work, meaning benefits for both him and his crop-growing neighbour

Reading Time: 5 minutes Cover crops have caught on like wildfire for corn producers in the U.S. and Eastern Canada, mainly because of their benefits for soil health. But some producers have found another bonus — a source of feed for grazing cattle. Mike Buis has been doing it for about 15 years, seeing the overall benefits in animal […] 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