GFM Network News


A newly developed system created by Claas and a consortium of companies uses a stereoscopic camera to guide an implement during in-crop tillage.

Conventional thinking

Machinery manufacturers are offering European farmers new options for in-crop weed and pest control

Reading Time: 5 minutes Walking the 15 kilometres or so of aisles at Agritechnica in November, one trend was hard to miss. It was in the tillage segment, where the number of options and the sophistication of that technology is obviously on the rise. Efficiency has always been the driving force behind farm machinery evolution, but it’s clear that […] Read more

Brothers Rob, Derek and Rick Kootstra aim to plant cover crops on every acre, every year.

Real sustainability

Integrating the benefits of his Ontario Soil Network membership into how he farms is helping Rick Kootstra find real sustainability

Reading Time: 5 minutes Like a lot of farmers, Rick Kootstra doesn’t see himself as an innovator or a leader. He just goes about his business. Thanks to the Ontario Soil Network, though, he does it with a lot of great connections with farmers who share similar goals and aspirations. Kootstra, along with his brothers Rob and Derek, works […] Read more


Sustainability means farmers are simply asked to say what they do, do what they say and be able to prove it.

The next step in ‘sustainable agriculture’

For farmers, there will be extra costs, but also opportunities

Reading Time: 5 minutes Where some see an opportunity, others see only difficulties. Where some accept change and inevitability, others reject emerging trends and try to hold out against the onrushing wave. Such is the reality of modern farming, where some embrace change, sometimes reluctantly, while others fight paradigm shifts with all their might. During the course of the […] Read more

Longer rotations, adopting cover crops and the use of manure or bio-amendments would help boost soil organic matter levels over time.

Soil organic freefall

Comparisons that date back 40 years or more in some counties show just how much organic matter we’ve lost, and how hard it’s going to be to replace it

Reading Time: 7 minutes For much of the past decade, provincial extension personnel, certified crop advisors (CCAs) and retailers have talked about declining soil organic matter levels in soils across Ontario. The trends towards intensive farming, shorter rotations, a decline in livestock farming and general practices that focus more on yield are some of the factors cited, together with […] Read more


The consistently highest yields were on narrower row spacing, combined with high rates of side-banded N, but all row spacing — even 24 inches — produced viable yields as long as environmental conditions were conducive and weeds effectively controlled.

The best crop row spacing is…

A multi-year study suggests there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question

Reading Time: 6 minutes The question of the best row spacing has been asked even more often in recent years, and it turns out that the answer is the same as for many other questions in farming — “It depends.” But on what? A multi-year study by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Indian Head Agricultural Research […] Read more

Mike von Masson, University of Guelph (left), Jayson Lusk, Purdue University and Iris Joye, University of Guelph were part of a panel discussion on communicating about the future of food

Big trends drive diverging high and low income food interests

Panel discussed the future of food and the widening disconnect between growers and consumers

Reading Time: 3 minutes There are larger issues driving food trends that should give farmers opportunities to open conversations with people in the food movement. The challenge is starting that conversation. Jayson Lusk, the head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, told the George Morris AgriFood Policy Lecture on the future of food that influencers are […] Read more


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

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


This earthen “tank” is 100 feet above the Coen farmyard and provides gravity pressure for livestock watering, irrigation and fire protection. For more photos and videos of the Coen farm, visit YouTube.com and search for “Takota Coen — Grass Roots Family Farm.”

‘Farmscaping’ for profitability, sustainability

Applying some of the same principles from kitchen design can improve the environment and the workflow on the farm

Reading Time: 5 minutes “Farmscaping” might be a new term for many western Canadian producers, but it’s shorthand for a familiar set of ideas: building features like shelterbelts and perennial strips into the farm landscape to best utilize their ecological goods and services. In other words, taking a “whole-farm” approach, with the goal of maximizing profitability and sustainability. Joanne […] Read more

The bottom line is that reducing pesticides increases the complexity of decision-making and management on the farm.

‘Insurance’ spraying

A new study says most farmers can generate more profit by cutting back on crop protection. But wait… is it really that simple?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Today, we all recognize “recreational tillage” as a phrase we use to criticize farmers who haven’t been paying attention to how we’ve learned that we can put an end to a lot of excessive tillage, thereby reducing soil erosion, fuel and equipment costs, and manpower requirements. But now we need to ask: Is “recreational spraying” […] Read more