GFM Network News


Organic soybeans are used in Japan for natto, a traditional fermented food often served with rice, soy sauce, mustard and bunching onion.

The power of whole farm co-design

A research project brings farmers together to share results and discuss what works and what doesn’t

Reading Time: 4 minutes Let’s say you’re a soybean producer in Manitoba. You’re growing conventional varieties and doing well — selling into a ready market, getting a decent price. Then one day in the coffee shop you overhear a guy talk about the price he’s getting for organic soybeans — pretty much double what you’re getting — and you […] Read more

Sunflowers need a hybrid lift

With Western sunflower acres dropping sharply in recent years, new varieties are needed to claw acres back from easier-to-grow soybeans

Reading Time: 4 minutes There are fewer sights more appealing than a field of mature sunflowers, but this golden vision is growing rarer. The reason is simple — sunflowers are losing out to soybeans. In Canada’s biggest sunflower province, Manitoba, acres dropped under 62,000 this year, with a little more than half the crop going to black oil and […] Read more


Prairie flax acreage is not as high as it once was, but Canada is still the world’s largest exporter.

Improving flax one allele at a time

Rust hasn’t affected Canadian flax for more than 40 years, but new varieties must still incorporate resistance

Reading Time: 4 minutes On the surface, you’d think that a research project seeking to locate and sequence specific rust-resistance genes, then find ways to quickly identify the presence of these genes in plant breeding material is ultimately about preventing crop loss to rust. But we’re talking about flax here, so think again. Flax is a one million-acre crop […] 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

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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


“Most farmers I speak with want to reduce synthetic chemical inputs to their land.” – Dr. Russell Hynes, AAFC-Saskatoon and 
University of Saskatchewan

A ‘bio’ that works

Commercial use is still a couple of years away, but this bioherbicide is already raising eyebrows

Reading Time: 5 minutes When it comes to biopesticides, most researchers say that despite today’s limited selection of bio-based fungicides, insecticides and herbicides, the technology’s potential is extraordinary. Public and private scientists are especially excited by an “all natural” basis for developing new active ingredients. Since most of the elements for these biopesticides come from natural sources, they point […] Read more

Chris Neeser used a fixed-wing UAV and captured images three times during the season in two fields each of barley, canola, field peas, seed alfalfa, potatoes and spring wheat.

UAVs and crop scouting. Are they worth it?

Seven organizations supported a two-year study on whether drones can provide practical benefits to farmers

Reading Time: 5 minutes When Chris Neeser began to design a research project on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in crop scouting, he wondered if anyone would be willing to fund it. “This was different from a typical research project,” says Neeser, a research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Crop Diversification Centre, South, in Brooks. “There […] Read more


A bread sample made with regular wheat flour (l) and yellow pea flour combined with wheat flour (r).

Building a complete protein package

Bringing wheat and pulses together for healthier baked products — a formula for new opportunities

Reading Time: 3 minutes As more innovative uses for pulses are explored in response to global demand for healthier food products, Canadian pulse producers may look forward to increasing demand for their crops. Together with Warburtons, the U.K.’s largest bakery brand, the Canadian International Grains Institute is undertaking its most comprehensive investigation into quality characteristics and functionality of pulses […] Read more

Wheat quality manager Rhett Kaufmann speaking at the official opening of Bayer CropScience’s wheat breeding centre near Saskatoon last summer. Bayer is investing $1.9 billion into wheat worldwide over 10 years, including $24 million in Canada.

Wheat breeding: Public or private?

Some argue private investment will boost yields, but others note that public breeders have done a pretty good job so far

Reading Time: 4 minutes Making wheat a more competitive crop requires public and private breeder co-operation — and getting a return on investment from farmers buying seed. That was the consensus among panelists discussing wheat breeding at the 3rd Canadian Wheat Symposium in November. “My observation would be that ultimately farmers are going to be paying for this one […] Read more


Wheat being inoculated with fusarium at Western Canada’s largest fusarium “nursery” at Carman, Man.

A genetic solution to fusarium?

Across the country, several researchers are studying fusarium from every angle, from pathology to agronomy

Reading Time: 4 minutes In the early ’90s, farmers in the eastern Prairies started to ask questions about odd white “tombstone” wheat kernels. When they received the answer, some wondered whether the name would refer to the tombstone on the grave of the wheat business, especially when there was a huge outbreak in Manitoba in 1993. Near-panic ensued, as […] Read more

CP, CN both top their Prairie grain revenue caps

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) can soon expect a late gift of over $4.4 million in surplus Prairie grain freight revenue, according to a new ruling from the Canadian Transportation Agency. The agency said Dec. 22 it has determined Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Canadian National Railway (CN) went over their maximum revenue entitlements […] Read more