GFM Network News


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

“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

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


Soil pH is often highly variable within fields, as demonstrated in this map of a single central Alberta field. The range is from red (pH of 4-4.5) to dark lime green (pH of 7.5-8). That is why grid sampling is an important step in lime application.

If you have low soil pH, should you lime?

It can take tonnes of lime per acre to move soil pH from 5 to 7, but improved fertilizer availability for all crops, better nodulation for pulse crops and alfalfa, and reduced risk from clubroot in canola can make the investment worthwhile

“Finally.” That word got special emphasis when Doug Penney was asked about liming. “It has become a hot topic… finally.” Penney, a long-serving Alberta Agriculture fertility specialist and now semi-retired crop consultant, says many fields in Western Canada — especially in Alberta — probably would have benefited from lime a long time ago. Fields most […] Read more

Britain outlines post-Brexit farm policy in bill

London | Reuters –– Britain will introduce legislation on Wednesday for agricultural policy after it leaves the European Union that will link support for farmers to the provision of public benefits such as tackling climate change or preserving beautiful landscapes. The Agriculture Bill, primarily covering England, will provide the basis for policy in a sector […] Read more