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

Fancy soil test kit — researchers used the Canadian Light Source synchrotron in Saskatoon to analyze the biological cycling P goes through in the soil.

Soil tests may not tell the whole story of phosphorus

Research shows “legacy” phosphorus might support crops long after you’ve stopped making applications

Do soil tests accurately reflect how much phosphorus is actually available to plants? A long-term study at the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre in Swift Current, Sask., suggests they don’t. Research scientist Barbara Cade-Menun is leading a study on continuous wheat plots established in 1967. Until 1995, the plots received both nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer; […] Read more


Contrary to a common perception, water-use efficiency and drought tolerance are not one and the same.

The water question

Should you be more concerned about drought tolerance, or water-use efficiency?

It’s a term that’s often loosely used, and it isn’t well understood at any level. Yet it may become one of the dominant yield limitations in your crop production within the next few years. Water-use efficiency has been part of agronomy’s lexicon for decades, yet as yields have increased, its definition and how it functions […] 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


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

“Snirt” was a common sight in Manitoba soybean fields last winter.

Avoiding another year of ‘snirt’

North Dakota farmers and researchers are finding success in controlling soybean field erosion by planting cover crops

“Snirt” became a buzzword in Prairie agricultural journalism in 2017 and 2018, and for good reason: the dirty snow lining ditches along highways was a telling indicator that there had been a soybean field there last season. It’s a problem across the Red River Valley region in particular, where soybean producers are used to tilling […] 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