GFM Network News


“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

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

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


Friedhelm Hoffmann has fertigated corn, soybeans and wheat, which he states yielded 140 bushels per acre.

Get there on time

Timely delivery is a big plus for “fertigation,” but can you afford the costs and the management demands?

In precision agriculture, the focus is typically on the low-hanging fruit, i.e. the use of yield data to create variable-rate fertilizer scripts, investing in individual row units with automatic down-force, or using aerial imagery to pinpoint trouble spots in a field. Most such discussions are also confined to choices about soil, seed and fertility. Yet […] 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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Students work at seeding the lysimeters by hand at the Elora Research Station.

The crop rotation effect

At last, scientists hope to explain exactly why rotations are such a good practice

It’s one thing to know the benefits of a practice, it’s another to understand the “why,” especially when it comes to biological functions where the road to understanding can be anything but simple. In cropping terms, science has known about the benefits of longer rotations for years, but not about the exact reasons why. This[...]
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Growers have been completely shocked by the soil tests they got back.” – Jim Hazlewood, Stratford Agri Analysis.

Empty soils

Today’s big-yield genetics really are draining the nutrient supply in our soils

The power of today’s corn hybrids and soybean varieties to exceed farmers’ expectations is a testament to the science of plant breeding, and also to the value of selecting the best elite genetics. That farmers in Eastern Canada have been able to push corn yields to 200 bu./ac. and soybeans to 60 bu./ac., even in[...]
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An example of a cover crop seed mixture in the U.S., where some producers are using cocktails of 20 or more species. However the U of M’s Yvonne Lawley warns about brassicas such as tillage radish, which might contribute to diseases including clubroot in canola.

Season too short for cover crops? Maybe not

They could have a fit for Western Canada, but they require just as much planning as any other crop choice

Open just about any U.S. farming publication and you won’t read for long before seeing the words “cover crop.” There’s been an explosion of interest in the practice of sowing a cheap mixture of seed to cover the soil after harvest, and then seeding directly into it the following year. The benefits go beyond soil[...]
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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

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[...]
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Matthias Stettler.

VIDEO: Taking action on soil compaction

Swiss researcher Matthias Stettler set up his soil compaction sensors for a unique live show for farmers at the recent Compaction Action field day in Ontario. In this video Stettler talks about the impact of compaction and some of the options producers have to help counteract it.

Canada’s soils still degrading, albeit more slowly

The rate of degradation of soils in Canada has slowed, but it still is happening at a significant rate and there is still a lot to learn. There are no soil-perfect systems yet for crop production, attendees at the Summit on Canadian Soil Health held recently in Guelph heard repeatedly. No-till farming has declined in[...]
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