GFM Network News


The Breton Classical Plots were established in 1930, just east of the town of Breton and 100 km southwest of Edmonton.

Some old ways aren’t better, but…

Long-term rotation study underlines that summerfallow harms soil health, but the old mixed farming model looks pretty good

Reading Time: 4 minutes You might think that a long-term crop test might mean five years. A decade would be remarkable. But what could plots tell you about soil health if they’ve been going on for 87 years? They would tell you that Prairie farmers were right to stop keeping fields in fallow as part of a rotation and […] Read more

The damage that over-tillage does is plain to see in soil quality.

The news on soil health

This time, will farmers finally break the “build-up then burn-out” cycle of soil management? The Ontario Soil Network thinks the answer may be yes

Reading Time: 6 minutes Don Lobb takes a very dim view of how mankind has treated soil over the millennia, but he is slightly more hopeful for this generation, due both to our constantly growing body of knowledge about soils, and to farmers who are not only willing to experiment with better ways to take care of the soil, […] Read more


More than 100,000 farmers and ranchers have attended Ray Archuleta’s soil-health talks, which start with two clumps of soil dropped into columns of water.

It’s not soil ‘quality’…

Terminology can make a difference, and using ‘health’ rather than ‘quality’ is helping bring together different interests to a common cause

Reading Time: 6 minutes For three weeks every month, Ray Archuleta captivates audiences with a few handfuls of soil. He begins with two clumps, dropping them into water. The soil from a farm where the soil isn’t tilled holds together, while the tilled soil immediately disperses, indicating poor soil structure. Next, volunteers from the audience — mostly farmers and […] Read more

A drip line is shown in proximity to standing corn.

Subsurface drip irrigation

Interest is growing even in corn and soybeans, although it’s not for everyone

Reading Time: 9 minutes When it comes to being a better farm manager, many retailers, extension personnel and researchers talk about cost of production and “controlling the controllable,” which leads to the usual factors coming up, including seed selection, soil fertility, residue management and weed control. But the one factor that is always left off anyone’s list of controllable […] Read more


Strips in corn stubble.

Is strip tillage a residue solution?

We don’t want to see a step backward in reduced-tillage practices. So how can canola growers improve seed survival and crop uniformity in challenging residue situations?

Reading Time: 5 minutes The fall objectives: Make sure the chopper can spread the width of the cut. Have a chaff spreader to avoid the thick harrow-immoveable mat of chaff right behind the combine. Cut higher so more of the residue is standing stubble. If necessary, harrow the crop on a hot windy day. This is the no-till approach […] Read more

What’s turning heads is that the Loewith farm, including Ben and Dave above, are known Canada-wide for their excellence in the barn.

No till goes dairy farming

In many ways, it’s been an easy transition for this dairy family

Reading Time: 6 minutes The Loewiths don’t describe themselves as a crop innovators, but they’re certainly not hesitant to glean advice from others and, with some careful consideration, adapt a practice or an approach to the conditions on their farm. So, while the move to no till in a dairy operation might seem a little different to some, with […] Read more


Phacelia is generating more interest among cover crop growers, and sourcing has become less of a hurdle for new users.

Blending scores big with cover crops — and diversity

More growers are exploring more blends with specific goals in sight

Reading Time: 8 minutes At Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show this past fall, the cover-crop focus was on diversity. There was a high-diversity blend, a six-way blend, a Merlin (Ontario) Multi-Mix and a soil-building mix. There was even a cool-season N-fixing blend, just to gauge its potential. If it seems like a lot to take in, get used to it. […] Read more

Preliminary research suggests strip tillage is an option for exposing enough soil to get it warm enough to plant corn in Western Canada.

Corn isn’t just about crop heat units

New shorter-season hybrids are just part of the Prairie corn picture. Just as important will be the local research to fine-tune how they’ll fit into the production system

Reading Time: 5 minutes As the life-science companies begin to deliver on their promise of shorter-season corn for the Prairies, another challenge arises. Typically corn is grown in rotation with soybeans in a far wetter climate in a corn-soybean rotation. How will it fit in a drier landscape, and in rotation with wheat, pulses and canola? There aren’t many […] Read more


Tile drainage is an effective tool at managing water quality and subsequently improving management of soil health and related issues.

Where water leaves the farm

Improve your productivity by starting where water leaves your farm, and then work backwards

Reading Time: 4 minutes In the chase for higher yields and improved production, farmers have tapped into everything from precision ag systems to a return to cover crops. Now comes a concept that might not only boost yields and enhance soil health, it might also alleviate some of the pressure on farmers that starts with surface run-off heading into […] Read more