GFM Network News


A clover cover crop stretches upward from the stubble.

Finding the value of cover crops for Western Canada

Cover crops are now standard practice farther south in the U.S., but do they have the same results on the shorter-season Prairies?

Reading Time: 3 minutes When Yvonne Lawley wrote her research proposal for a study of cover crops, she was specific about the wording of the title: Testing the cover crop hypothesis across Prairie Canada. It’s the word “hypothesis” that grabs you. What could be theoretical about cover crops? Some farmers have been using them for decades to help build […] Read more

The traditional choice for cover crops has been red clover underseeded to winter wheat, but that’s changing.

Re-setting the mind-set on cover crops

Research is shining new light on when — and why — to make cover crops part of your routine field management

Reading Time: 8 minutes Much of what is known about specific practices in agriculture has been constructed then modified and sometimes deconstructed altogether. It’s an ongoing process that applies to virtually every cropping practice, from the use of moldboard plows to no till and from planting depth to fertility rates. Cover crops have been studied extensively across many parts […] Read more


Each Prairie province has a website with information on completing an Environmental Farm Plan.

Why Environmental Farm Plans aren’t just for livestock farmers

All three Prairie provinces offer to cost-share programs for producers who have completed an Environmental Farm Plan and adopt beneficial management practices

Reading Time: 4 minutes The Environmental Farm Plan isn’t just for livestock producers, especially as the pressure increases on crop growers to demonstrate their sustainable-cropping practices to the food industry. But before we look at how the EFP is playing an important role in regional and global sustainable-sourcing initiatives, let’s look at what cost-sharing projects related to crops are […] Read more

Cattle are an important part of the rotation on Agripastos Farm.

Conservation tillage driving Brazil’s corn and soybean explosion

No-till farm group says no-till is the key to long-term sustainable agriculture

Reading Time: 4 minutes Crop production in Brazil has made dramatic gains in recent decades — and there’s potential for plenty more, say advocates of no till and conservation tillage in the country. In fact, members of the Brazilian Federation of No-Till Farming say no till is the key to achieving a long-term sustainable agriculture without additional deforestation. Soybean […] Read more


Treatments included three yield zones and four N fertilizer rates — 0, 50, 100 and 150 per cent N based on soil test.

Zone-by-zone nitrogen application may not pay

A three-year study finds surprisingly little response to extra nitrogen in both high- and low-producing areas

Reading Time: 3 minutes A new Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada study suggests producers should take soil test nitrogen prescriptions by management zone with a grain of salt. They don’t necessarily reflect what researcher Alan Moulin calls the “supplying power” of the soil, and since fields vary, there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription to meet crop nutrient demands. This doesn’t mean producers […] Read more

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

Editor’s Note: Did farms make the right choices?

We have all heard it before. It’s the saying that most bad decisions get made in good times. So, in the midst of the bull market a decade ago, we wondered what we’d be looking back on in 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes Here is what I wrote in September 2008: “Somewhere in the land and in the barns that are being bought and sold, and in the equipment purchases, and in the new partnerships that are being formed and the old ones that are falling apart, there are the beginnings of trends that we’ll point to in […] Read more


Processing plants are being built across the country to convert farm crops into bioproducts for essentially every sector.

The booming bioeconomy — Part 2

In part one of this feature, we introduced the bioeconomy and how Canada is working to become a world leader. In part two we look at specific sector developments from coast to coast — there are lots of them!

Reading Time: 7 minutes It’s a surprise to most of us. What’s the hottest bioeconomy subsector on the planet? Replacements for plastic. Worldwide demand for biodegradable products is urgent and it’s growing, especially to replace single-use plastic items like straws, utensils, cup lids and plastic bags. The race is on. France banned plastic cups in 2016, and Queen Elizabeth […] Read more

General Mills and Cargill Canada have both announced programs aimed at regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture hits the mainstream

Big Ag is getting on the bandwagon, but market premiums still aren’t on the table

Reading Time: 6 minutes If you’re a cattle producer, you may already have heard the term “regenerative agriculture.” If you’re a grain producer, maybe not. But that’s about to change. This spring, General Mills announced a plan to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland in the U.S. and Canada by 2030, and Cargill Canada announced […] Read more


“Not having family members that were farming made some things more difficult,” Lydia Carpenter says. “In other ways, it was an asset to us.”

The way it happens

How do new farmers get a start in Canada? Every story is unique, but so often it starts, as here, with the right people somehow getting together

Reading Time: 10 minutes If, as the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation and opportunity meet,” Lydia Carpenter and Wian Prinsloo are the living embodiment of it. They have always had an interest in food production, yet neither had grown up on a farm, and when they set out to follow their passion in their […] Read more

“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

Reading Time: 6 minutes 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