GFM Network News


It doesn’t always work. It has to be based on science. Not every little flying creature is beneficial. For comparison, this is the newly identified canola flower midge, which is similar in size to the two beneficial wasps shown on page 30. But as a fly, it only has two wings compared to the wasps’ four. AAFC canola flower midge specialist Boyd Mori says counting wings would be difficult without a hand lens or microscope. Mori describes the midge as “delicate looking and light in colour (usually beige to light brown). Female’s wings are covered in tiny hairs, which gives them a mottled appearance.”

Protect the mighty Microgastrinae

More and more, we’re learning that farmers can save a lot of money in both the short and long term by taking advantage of opportunities to help the insect world police itself

Hector Carcamo was in a southern Alberta canola field in 2018 sweep-netting for cabbage seedpod weevils when what did he find? Little black wasps. Lots of them. Same thing in the next sample site. And then the next. Field to field. “We were consistently finding them. With every set of sweeps we found three, five, […] Read more

The associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan says that for more than a decade there have been more women than men in the ag programs.

‘Super Keen’

Ag education is hot, and enrolment is booming from coast to coast

It’s inspiring for anyone in agriculture to talk to the principals and deans at ag-related academic institutions across the country. More than ever in history, young Canadians are pursuing careers in ag. In a nutshell, it’s because there are jobs in agriculture after school — good jobs that offer exciting and interesting career paths for […] 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

Alexis Wagner and Cameron Olson have two different approaches about the future of food.

The youth solution for feeding the world

Young aggies like Cameron Olson and Alexis Wagner know that feeding a hungry planet will be the challenge of their lifetimes, which is why they’re so ready to listen even to those with seemingly unfriendly views

More than 1,000 18- to 25-year-olds from 95 countries submitted essays to qualify for the third Youth-Ag Summit held this past October in Belgium, with 100 delegates actually getting a ticket. Among them were four young Canadians. Sponsored by Bayer, the summit gave youth an opportunity to discuss one of the most pressing questions the […] Read more


On the Noble farm in the Peace district, parents Bob and Nora with siblings Cara, Jolene and Lee. The Nobles say brothers and sisters have a winning potential for open communication.

Honest to goodness

More brothers and sisters: For the Noble family, success means learning how to change open communication from a threat into a strength

Brothers and sisters are working together on more farms all the time. More and more too, there are multiple siblings on these farms, not just one of each. To outsiders, it can seem like so many more chances for family to get in the way, and so many chances for old rivalries to flare up. […] Read more

Linda Hall is looking for the right combination of variety choice and agronomic practices to make oats more attractive to growers in central Alberta.

The Catch-22 of oat production

Tests in central Alberta yield some useful information on N rates and the effectiveness of plant growth regulators

Linda Hall has a soft spot for the humble oat, mainly because she doesn’t think it’s really all that humble. “Milling oats are a high-value crop,” Hall says. “We’re seeing companies like Richardson buying up oat milling capacity, so the markets are there if we can grow the right kind of oat.” It all depends […] 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

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

Are there ways to stop AgriStability from tipping its payments toward some types of farms, and away from family grain farms?

Can you count on AgriStability?

A lot depends on the kind of operation you’re running, and whether you use family labour

Sue and Jim started farming by buying 300 acres, with buildings. By renting additional land, they quickly expanded to 2,500 acres. They supported this expansion with machinery that was mainly leased, and hired custom harvesting. They relied on a bank line of credit for much of their operating money. The last five years were good, […] Read more


Camelina seed is dense with omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Could camelina be ‘the next canola?’

You’ve heard the pitch on this oilseed before, but this time it could actually be true

[Updated Dec. 12, 2016; at bottom] – Jack Grushcow says the sky’s the limit for camelina, and he isn’t referring to the brief but well-publicized test when it was used for jet fuel a couple of years ago. Grushcow is CEO of Linnaeus Plant Sciences, which owns Smart Earth Seeds, a company developing new camelina […] Read more

Studies in three Prairie provinces used covers to block rainfall and simulate various levels of drought.

Stocking rates key to climate change adjustment

Low defoliation rates and leaving lots of litter are best for coping with weather variations from year to year

Fast and hard? Slow and easy? And how many animals per acre? Stocking and defoliation rates are a complex and even controversial issue, and depend a lot on the weather. Climate change could make them even more complex. To get a better idea on how producers should respond, Edward Bork and a team from the […] Read more