GFM Network News


Unfortunately for farmers, ag research doesn’t rank as high with government funders as items such as health care.

The funding crunch in agricultural research

Reading Time: 2 minutes Why are Lana Shaw and her colleagues having trouble securing funding for intercropping research? For one thing, funding is generally tight in public ag research. The South East Research Farm receives $75,000 a year for core operations, as do the other research sites in the Agri-ARM network. On top of that, surrounding municipalities have kicked […] Read more

McCain’s one-year multi-species blend contains 13 species, including spring oats, balansa clover, Austrian winter peas and sunflower.

2 covers — 25 species

P.E.I. potato growers are exploring diverse approaches to solve their low organic matter levels with cover crops

Reading Time: 6 minutes Soil organic matter has become a popular topic of discussion in the past year. In Ontario, a report from late 2016 indicated soil organic matter (SOM) levels in many parts of the province are at 15-year lows, coinciding with increasing interest in the use of cover crops, reduced- or no-till management and longer rotations in […] Read more


Tillage is the number one soil-degrading process, says one University of Manitoba professor.

Tillage erosion costing farmers billions

The pressure to get an early start on newer crops such as corn and soybeans encourages tillage practices which may not be sustainable

Reading Time: 5 minutes This past spring was one of the worst on record for so-called “snirt,” or dirty snow, in ditches across the Prairies — a sign that wind is moving loose topsoil to the margins of fields. While snirt is an indication that fields are susceptible to wind erosion, however, University of Manitoba soil science professor David […] Read more

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