GFM Network News


Farming Smarter general manager Ken Coles operates a hail simulator designed to test the effects of “rescue products” for recovering from hail damage.

Farming Smarter to make research pay

What’s the best way to fund local research when the usual sources dry up? This research group has new ideas

Reading Time: 5 minutes By keeping its efforts limited to southern Alberta, Farming Smarter, a farmer-led applied research and extension service, is proving it can respond quickly to local crop producers’ immediate needs. “We’re focused on creating opportunities and dealing with issues that farmers themselves face,” explains general manager Ken Coles. “It’s about crop producers saying, for example, ‘We […] Read more

“With technology, if you come late to the party on a disruption, once you realize you’ve been disrupted, you can never fix it,” says Wade Barnes.

Our ‘Amazon moment’

As Wade Barnes sees it, farms and farm suppliers can either embrace today’s tech disruption, or get ready to sell to those who will

Reading Time: 5 minutes More ag companies are testing the winds of change. They believe agriculture is on the cusp of another technological revolution, this time fueled by digitization and online connectivity. This revolution will bring risk, and it will bring opportunity. And, for sure, it will bring disruption. It will change what it takes to be successful, both […] Read more


An NDVI image of a corn crop that indicates side-dress nitrogen effects on corn maturity.

Field imagery much more just a pretty picture

Overhead imagery can transform how you farm, but it’s essential to choose the right technology — and commit to it

Reading Time: 8 minutes Precision agriculture has had a rough go since it was first conceptualized in the mid-1990s with the advent of the yield monitor. At that point, “variable rate” became part of agriculture’s vocabulary, followed by zone mapping, aerial imagery and a growing list of technologies now available to growers. Yet there’s still reluctance to rely too […] Read more

How realistic is it to assess the savings for every new tool or practice on the farm?

How much will that new farm technology really pay?

New tech can work wonders, but is your economic analysis a bankable guide to how it will perform on your farm?

Reading Time: 9 minutes Like everything else in farming, it’s getting more complicated to decide which technologies to invest in for the farm. Actually, make that “much more complicated.” An effective technology strategy is a key success factor, says Purdue University professor Michael Langemeier, “Early adopters of technology often reap above-average profits.” Plus, says Langemeier, it can keep them […] Read more


Earthworms and their castings are one of the more visible soil health indicators.

Precision ‘agronomy’

Precision ag is rapidly evolving, with an emerging suite of benefits for producers

Reading Time: 7 minutes Has any segment of agri-food changed as much in the past 10 years as precision ag? What is certain is that the science’s power to extrapolate data points, generate better maps, recommend specific courses of action and lead growers to higher revenues is unparalleled. The challenge though is still the same: Where to start? For […] Read more

Collecting and using data will drive the agriculture of the future, says a professor at Ohio State University.

Into the future

Celebrated ag tech guru Scott Shearer sees a profitable path ahead, together with some potential bumps

Reading Time: 4 minutes While it’s not exactly as futuristic as 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s no longer such a big stretch to imagine the day when a single operator anywhere in the world can remotely control 25 to 30 tractors, and when our crops effectively send us emails letting us know what they need. As professor and chair […] Read more


Researchers hope to release open-source tools for farmers to assess profitability using yield maps of their fields.

Does input in equal profit out?

University of Guelph researchers are working with precision ag tools to identify areas of profit, not just yield

Reading Time: 5 minutes Farming and farmland conservation sometimes seem at odds — a win for one is seen as a loss for the other. Taking land out of production for conservation is seen as a loss of productive farmland, while the ecological community sometimes views intensive ag production as a threat to long-term sustainability. But an ongoing study […] Read more

Precision agriculture has the power to help growers profit more by growing less, says Dr. Clarence Swanton, University of Guelph.

Profit more by farming less

Based on new University of Guelph research, profitability mapping shows why some parts of the farm will never make money with corn and soybeans

Reading Time: 6 minutes Seldom has agriculture been a model of “cutting back” or “making more by doing less.” Yet when it comes to sustainability, soil health and even profitability, it may be time to explore both of these notions. There are some who insist agriculture in North America is heading in the right direction with recognition of soil […] Read more


From left, Jennifer and Jay Bruggencate, and Mike and Kelly Sulzle.

Dream team

In Vector Grain, the Bruggencates and Sulzles are collaborating on a joint venture to make their longtime farming dreams a reality. It takes dedication and smarts, and loads of professional advice. But it’s paying off

Reading Time: 8 minutes Mike Sulzle had worked as Craig Shaw’s hired man for 16 years when Shaw approached him in 2015 with surprising news: 2016 would be his last year farming. “Craig had always said I could take over when he quit farming one day, but it wasn’t serious,” says Sulzle. “I didn’t see how I could do […] Read more

Matt Johnson of M3 Aerial Productions says canopy reflectance tells you where you need to take a closer look.

A drone spots a problem in your field. Now what?

Drone-mounted cameras measuring NDVI reflectance can identify crop problems, but not necessarily the cause. Researchers are looking for other tools that might

Reading Time: 5 minutes It’s been more than a few years since drones made their debut in agriculture, but questions about whether they’re worth producers’ time aren’t going away. Most agricultural drones are set up to measure canopy reflectance using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), a graphical indicator that assesses crop health by measuring canopy reflectance. Drones carrying […] Read more